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The following remarks are offered as a contribution to the 
interpretation of a poem to which a great deal of recent criti- 
cism has, I venture to think, been unjust. Much has been said 
of the artificial and borrowed element in the Aeneid, very little 
of the original element ; and yet it is clear that a poet who won 
the ear of his nation so soon as Vergil, and became at once one 
of the most popular poets and the most classical poet of Rome^ 
could not have gained this position without great original 
power. Because Vergil chose a vast and multitudinous mate- 
rial to work upon some critics have supposed that he showed no 
creative power in handling it ; as if he had not created a new 
kind of epic and a new poetical language; as if any other 
Boman poet before him had attempted so vast and so difficult 
a problem^ and as if any epic poet of his nation after him had 
succeeded in anything like the same way in holding the at- 
tention of mankind. Mere rhetorical skill has never made and 
can never make a work immortal. When therefore Bemhardy ^ 
whose careful and appreciative criticism on the Aeneid I wish to 
. mention with great respect, refuses to allow that Vergil had any 
creative power; when TeuffeP, after pronouncing the same ver* 
diet, refuses him any original g^s but those of tender sympathy 
and minute psychological insight, asserting that all his characters 
'show a mild and humane temper, without asperity and roughness, 
but at the same time without energy ;' when Mr. Gladstone ^ says 

^ GmndriBB der Bomischen Idtteratnr, 2te Abthefliuig, pp. 489, 496. 

' Geschichte der Bomischen Uterator, vol. ii. p. 44a foU. 

' Studies on Homer and the HomCTic Age, vol. iii. pp. 510, 513. 

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that *with rare exceptions the reader of Vergil finds himself 
utterly at a loss to see at any point the soul of the poet reflected 
in his work,' and charges him with allowing his mind to become 
so warped by artificial influences that he becomes ' reckless alike 
in major and in minor matters as to all the inner harmonies of his 
work,' and, in deviating from the Homeric tradition, commits such 
gross errors as can only be ascribed ' to torpor in the faculties, 
or defect in the habit of mind by which Homer should be ap- 
preciated;' — one cannot but feel that, if all this be true, Vergil's 
position in literature is a phenomenon difficult to be accounted 

It is a great misfortune that Keble, who as a poet had a soul 
to understand a poet, did not give to the Aeneid the same careful 
study which he gave to the Georgics. I have always found his 
lectures on Lucretius and Vergil fuller of poetical insight than 
any other modem criticisms which I have read on those writers, 
and though, as the following pages will show, I am not able to 
agree with his judgment on the Aeneid, which was in the main, 
with characteristic differences^, the same as that of Niebuhr, 
still, as the ' Praelectiones Academicae' is now, I fear, as far as 
students are concerned, an almost forgotten book, I am anxious 
to express my deep gratitude for the many new lights in poetical 
criticism which it has opened to me. I know of no book where 
Vergil's love of nature is dealt with with so much real sympathy 
and insight. As for the Aeneid, Conington has, I think, in- 
dicated in his Introduction the true line which criticism ought 

^ After passing some not wholly undeseired strictures on Yeigil*s treatment of 
the character of Aeneas, Keble (Prael. Acad. vol. ii. p. 7a a foil.) says, 'Yerum ut 
ea mittamus qnae propria sunt Aeneae ; neque in illius neque in Tumi persona neque 
in alio quovis eorum qui in scenam prodeunt Yirgilianam illud video quod praeci- 
puum habet Homerus : eventus scilicet ac summam cujusque rei verti penitus in 
eorum qui agunt motibus et affectu . . . Yiigilius . . . ipsorum qui dimicant 
personis vel minorem impendit curam yel certe non adeo felicem ; unum roodo 
alterumque exdpias.' Niebuhr thought that Yergil's real merit lay in his erudi- 
tion; Keble (who goes so fiir as to say 'fluminum ac sylvarimi gratia ponit &ta 
moresque hominum *) that his natural bent was towards sympathetio description of 
natural scenery : both critics however agree that he made a mistake in attempting 
to write an epic. 

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to take, especially in regard to the relation between the Aeneid 
and the Greek drama. Of his views on this matter much of 
what I have said is only a development, itavros yap Trpoa-Oeivai 

Recent French criticism has been more sympathetic with 
Vergil than German. Besides Legris, who has been followed 
by Merivale in the forty-first chapter of his * History of the 
Romans under the Empire^' MM. Sainte-Beuve, Patin^ and 
Gaston Boissier have contributed valuable matter to the criticism 
of the Augustan poets. The author last mentioned, in his work 
on the * Religion of the Romans from Augustus to the Anto- 
nines,' has a most ingenious and instructive chapter on the 
Aeneid, which he maintains to be, in its main intention, a 
religious poem. Most of the following pages were written 
before I had seen M. Boissier's work, but I find myself in 
substantial agreement with his views, supposing the phrase 
^ religious poem ' to be used in the only sense in which it can 
be used of any work of classical antiquity. 

H. N. 

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The Aeneid has been so often criticised &om different points 
of view that it may seem presumptuous in any one who pro- 
fesses merely to study and interpret, to attempt anything fresh 
in the way of generally elucidating the thoughts of Vergil. It 
may happen, on the other hand, that a great work of imagination 
sometimes presents such diflEiculties to the ordinary under- 
standing, that, although its power and beauty are instinctively 
recognised by succeeding generations of men, the main thoughts 
which have inspired it and which are the real strength of its 
author are not clearly grasped, and criticism, favourable or un- 
favourable, lingers over details with praise, blame, explanation, 
or apology, while it misses the great intention which lies be- 
neath and is the foundation of the whole. This happens chiefly 
in the case of those works of art which are not the products of 
simple and elementary forces and passions easily comprehended, 
but which represent a complex and manifold surrounding of 
speculation and fancy; an atmosphere filled with a number of 
ideas which the creative power of the artist finds it difficult to 
harmonize into a complete whole ; a literary tradition rich with 
the gathered thoughts and forms of past generations, and 
claiming attention with such force as to render absolute spon- 
taneity impossible ; a society whose every form of existence is 
reflected and artificial, and in which the conflict of new and old 
elements is realized without approaching any apparent solution. 
In such a state of things a poet of true force and insight 

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8 Suggestions Introductory to 

finds it difficult to find expression for great and far-reaeliing 
thoughts. The reverence for previously existing forms of 
poetry and the gathered stores of thought and imagination 
lying in the works of his predecessors — ^a reverence of which 
every true artist has always been full — ^makes reflection and 
reminiscence a duty as imperative as fresh creation : and while 
it deepens and purifies the poet's conception, exalts and widens 
the range of his vision, and makes him careful to embody every 
thought in the finest expression, it makes difficult, if not im- 
possible, for him the clear forward look which is the privilege of 
a simpler age. The Aeneid, standing as it does at the end of 
one great period of history and the beginning of another, 
summing up in a poetical form the ideas political, moral, 
mythological, and religious which had been the creation or the 
inheritance of republican Bome, is an instance among several 
of a great work produced under the conditions which I have 
been endeavouring to describe. The following remarks are 
offered as a contribution to the interpretation of the main ideas 
which seem to have inspired it. In dealing with such a work 
our first business is to interpret, our second to judge; all 
criticism is shallow and misleading which attempts to pro- 
nounce a verdict upon details before the main principles of the 
work have been fully mastered. I should not approach the 
subject at all were it not that, as it seems to me, the difficulties 
presented by the Aeneid have, as a whole, hardly been grappled 
with by modem criticism. They have been noticed, apologized 
for, or left on one side : the question whether there is any main 
idea underlying the poem, which may to any extent account for 
them, can hardly be said to have obtained a thorough consider- 
ation. It is evident indeed that on a first reading the Aeneid 
seems to teem with anomalies. The epic framework is out of 
harmony with the spirit of Vergil's time, and with the com- 
paratively modem cast of the characters and ideas ; we have all 
the detail natural in a primitive poem, but instead of primitive 
simplicity in presenting it, we find an elaboration of language 
which disdains or is unable to say a plain thing in a plain way; 
realities of nature are sometimes disregarded for the sake of 
literary effect; the character of the hero himself is but dimly 
realized ; the whole aim and scope of the poem seems thwarted, 

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a Study of the Aeneid. g 

obscured, or lost in masses of detail and cunning workman- 
ship. All these and similar defects are easily noticeable and 
have been forcibly dwelt upon by those critics who are mostly 
content with comparing Vergil (as the phrase is) with Homer. 
It is not so commonly asked whether a poet whose genius could 
absorb the admiration of Danfce, and whose influence probably 
contributed more than any other towards informing the poetical 
spirit and the verse of Milton, must not have had some qualities 
and quickening principles of wider reach than the tenderness, 
delicacy, purity, exquisite sensibility, elevation of tone, and 
dignity of expression, which all allow to have inspired the music 
of Vergil's numbers. 

The following remarks wiU be directed to the consideration 
of two points : First, what is the main conception which the 
story of the Aeneid was intended to work out; Second, what 
were the chief influences, literary, ethical, and religious, which 
determined Vergil in his cast of the form, and in the treatment 
of the details, of his story. The two questions, concerning as 
they do respectively the form and the spirit of the poem, 
represent in reality two sides of the same problem, though for 
clearness' sake it may be well to consider them separately. 

The main purpose of the Aeneid, as has been seen by several 
critics, is to celebrate the growth, under Providence, of the 
Roman empire and Roman civilization^. This theme was a 
great one, yet in one sense of the word hardly poetical, if it be 
true that poetry in its highest efltorts deals with great characters 
in great situations. For in a story dealing with such matter 
the element of personal interest, which plays so great a part in 
the Greek epic and tragedy, must to a considerable extent be 
wanting. It was a subject likely rather to impose upon the 
imagination than to stimulate invention: the idea as a whole 
is more impressive than the parts can be made attractive in the 
working out: the grandeur of the outline is vague and sta- 
tionary, leaving apparently but little room for the movement 
and proportion of life. Yet it would have been strange had 
not the imagination of Roman poets been struck by such a 

* Aen. I. 7 : 'Genus unde Latiniun, 

Albanique patres atqae altae moenia Bomae.' 

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lo Suggestions Introductory to 

theme ^. And Vergil, who^ before he wrote the Aeneid had 
fully realized the poetical side of the glories of the Roman 
empire and their apparent culmination under the first Caesars, 
would have been but an unworthy successor to Naevius and 
Ennius had he contented himself with merely producing, ac- 
cording to their example^ a series of annals in verse. To Vergil's 
mind it evidently appeared that the adequate poetical treatment 
of his great subject required a mythical setting ; the present 
must not be barely exhibited in the forms of its actual existence 
(this would be a retrogression in poetry), but must be idealized 
by the foreshadowings of prophecy, regarded as the issue and 
outcome of a heroic antiquity in which the lineaments of the 
present are cleanly discernible. The centre of the mythical 
background was naturally Aeneas, as Caesar was the centre of 
the present magnificence of the Roman empire. The religious 
aspect of the whole was naturally present to Vergil, as to any 
Roman. * We surpass all other nations,' says Cicero, ' in holding 
fest the belief that all things are ordered by a divine Provi- 
dence ^.' The theme of the Aeneid is the building up of the 
Roman empire under this Providence. Aeneas is the son of a 
goddess, and his life the working out of the divine decrees. 
The opposition to these decrees is, as we shall see in detail 
below, the work of inferior deities and the baser human passions. 

* Hor. Carm. 4. 15. 25 : 

'Nosque et profestis lucibus et sacris 
Inter iocod munera liberi, 
Cum prole, matronisque nostris. 
Kite deos prius apprecati, 
Virtute fiinctos more patrmn duces, 
Lydis remixto carmine tibiis, 
Troiamque et Anchisen et almae 
Prpgeniem Veneris canemus.' 
I^pertius and Ovid, it need hardly be observed, paid considerable attention to 
Boman antiquities. 
' Geoigic 2. 167 foil., 3. 16 foil. 

' Cicero N. D. 2. 4. 8 : 'Si conferre volumus nostra cum extenus : ceteris rebus 
aut pares aut etiam inferiores reperiemur, religione, id est, cultu deorum, multo 
superiores.' De Haruspicum Besponds, 9. 19 : ' Quam volumus licet, patres con- 
scripti, ipsi nos amemus : tamen nee numero Hispanos, nee robore Gallos, nee cal- 
liditate Poenos, nee artibus Graecos, nee denique hoc ipso huius gentis ac terrae 
domestioo natiVoque sensu Italos ipsos ac Latinos, sed pietate et religione, atque 
hac una sapientia, quod deorum immortaUum pumine omnia regi gubemarique 
perspezimus, omnes gentes nationesque superavimus.' 

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a Study of the Aeneid, ii 

Aeneas is conceived by Vergil as embodying in his character 
the qualities of a warrior, a ruler, and a civilizer of men, the 
legendary impersonation of all that was great in the achieve- 
ments of Rome. His mission is to carry on a contest in Italy, 
to crush the resistance of its warlike tribes, to give them 
customs and build them cities ^ It is instructive to observe the 
similarity of language in which Aeneas is spoken of in the first 
and the Boman nation in the sixth book ^. In his character of 
lawgiver and civilizer he is great as Alcides and Theseus^ 
whom he resembles in his mission: like theirs, his must be a 
life of struggle, of heroic endurance, and of great difficulties 
overcome. Like Hercules, he encounters and prevails over the 
anger of the queen of heaven; like him, and like Ulysses, he is 
permitted to lift the veil which parts the living from the dead, 
lest anything should be wanting to the full stature of his cha- 
racter as priest, king, and lawgiver. His distingprishing epithet 
{^piubi) suggests not one heroic quality merely, but the character 
of the son who loves his fether, of the king who loves his sub- 
jects, of the worshipper who reverences the gods *. It will be 
worth while to follow the narrative in detail, with the view of 
seeing how this conception is borne out. 

The first six books of the poem contain the preparation of the 
hero for his great achievement, the conquering and civilizing of 
the rude tribes of Italy. Of these books, three only, the first, 
the fourth, and the sixth, nearly concern us here, as the second, 
third, and fifth are episodical. The first and the fourth books 
form the opening act of the great drama. In these books we 

* Aen. I. 263 : 

'Bellum ingens geret Italia> populosque ferocis 
Gontuiujlet, moresque viris et moenia ponet.' 
« lb. 6. 851 : 

'Tu regere imperio populos, Bomane, memento, 
Hae tibi erunt artes, padsque imponere morem.' 
® lb. 122 ; 

'Quid Thesea magnmn. 
Quid memorem Aldden? Et mi genus ab love summo.' 

* To have confined his idea of Aeneas to the outlines given of his character in 
the niad, as Mr. Gladstone thinks he ought to have done, would have been 
impossibleto Vergil. Even were we sure that we have all the traditions bearing 
on the matter, which is fi*r from being the case, we could not deny to Veigil the 
poet's privilege of conceiving and developing his own characters in his own way. 

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12 Suggestions Introductory to 

are taken at once into a scene which foreshadows^ in legendary 
form, the greatest event of Roman history, the conflict of Eome 
with Carthage \ Aeneas, the future lawgiver of Italy \ is 
brought face to face with the great city rising under the sceptre 
of Dido. Admiration for the queen and her work touches his 
imagination, love for t^he woman his heart * : as Caesar was half 
won by Cleopatra, Aeneas is half won by Dido : the king and 
the queen alike forget their mission, the half-built walls are lefk 
unfinished, the works of war and defence are abandoned \ But 
the commands of Heaven are clear, the founder of Rome must 
not be united to an Eastern queen : in this as in all things he 
must represent the idea of a true Roman. He crushes his love, 
follows the express commands of Jupiter and of his father's 
spirit', and leaves the queen to her fate. The fifth book forms 
some relief to the strain and intense passion of the fourth, of 
which we shall have more to say below : perhaps Vergil was not 
unwilling to dwell on the outward signs of the pieta% which in 
the sequel leads his hero to seek the embraces of his father in 
the world of spirits. In the sixth book Aeneas, like Odysseus 
and Heracles, has the mysteries of death revealed to him, and as 

^ Aen. I. 19 : 

'Progeniem sed enim Troiano a sanguine dud 
Audierat, Tjrias olim quae vert^ret arces; 
Hinc populum late regem belloque superbum 
Venturum ezddio Lxbyae : sic volvere Parcas.' 
^ lb. 4. 229 : 

'Sed fore, qui gravidam impeiiis belloque frementem 
ItaJiam regeret.' 
lb. 232 : 'Si nulla aooendit tantarum gloria rerum.' 
lb. 267 : * Begni rerumque oblite tuarum.' 
^ lb. 1.437: 'O fortunati quorum iam moenia surgunC 
lb. 4. 332 : 'Obnixufl curam sub corde premebat.* 
lb. 395 : ' Magnoque animnm labefisurbus amore.' 
lb. 448 : ' Magno persentdt pedx>re curas.' 
* lb. 86, 194. 

^ lb. 351 : 'Me patris Anchisae, quotiens humentibus umbris 
Nox operit terras, quotiens astra ignea suigunt,. 
Admonet in scmmis et turbida terret imago; 
Me puer Ascanius capitisque iniuria cari, 
Quem regno Hesperiae fraudo et fatalibus arvis. 
Nunc etiam inteipres divom, love missus ab ipso — 
Tester utrumque caput — oeleris mandata per auras ^ 
Detulit; ipse deum manifesto in lumine vidi 
Intrantem muros^ Tocemque his auiibus hauai.* 

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a Study of the Aeneid. 13 

Heracles was said ^ to have been initiated into the mysteries of 
Eleusis before his descent into Hades, so the language and 
imagery of the sixth book more than once suggest ^ that Vergil 
intended to embody in his picture the poetical view of that inner 
side of ancient religion which the mysteries may be supposed to 
have presented. As a son Aeneas goes to meet his father's 
spirit: as a king and a lawgiver he is initiated into all that 
could be given of the deepest ideas respecting the future life 
which were at Vergil's command. All the treasures of current 
mythology and philosophy are turned to account by the poet in 
the sixth book, his greatest effort, nor is the main purpose of the 
epic clearer in any part of it. The world of spirits is shown as 
sanctioning, by its examples of reward and punishment for the 
deeds done in this life, Roman ideas of law and morals ^, and the 
doctrine of transmigration is employed for the purpose of intro- 
ducing a prophetic celebration of Roman heroes ^. 

The work of Aeneas, prepared by wanderings error, trial, and 
divine communings, now begins in Italy. It is at this point 
that I should wish to call attention to a fact which I think has 
not been sufficiently dwelt upon, but which is of the utmost 
importance to the right understanding of the Aeneid, the idea, 
namely, which Vergil puts before us of the primitive condition 
of Italy and of the characters with whom Aeneas is brought 
into contact. The detail given us in the seventh book fully 
bears out the conception of which hints were thrown out in 

^ Diodorus 4. 24 : fUrtffx^y (*Hpa«r\^«) rail' h *Ekcvffm /nfarrjpUjv, Movffahv tov 
*Op<piw9 vlov Tore vpocffTTiKSTOt T§s TfXfT^f. See also ApoUodorus 2. 5. 12, and 
Heyne*s note. 

' Aen. 6. 258 : * Procul 0, procul este, pro&ni.' Possibly the words * sit mihi 
fas audita loqui/ ib. 266, (they recall Plato's words in the Goigias, c. 80, & ky^ 
AierjKoiiJs mffT€^co dXfjBij cTvcu), may have a similar reference. See also the passages 
quoted from the Banae of Aristophanes by Conington on Aen. 6. 637 foil., to 
which may perhaps be added, as a parallel to ' solemque suum, sua sidera norunt/ 
y. 423 of the same play, where the x^P^* livtrrw says /i6poi$ y^p ^fuv IjKioi mti <l>iyyot 
tKap6y ioTiy, On the general relation of the Sixth Aeneid to the side of ancient 
religion represented in the mysteries see below, p. 41 foil. See also Gonington*s 
introduction to the Sixth Aeneid. 

» Ib. 608 : 

'Hie, quibus invisi fratres, dum vita manebat 
Pulsatusve parens, et fraus innexa dienti,' etc. 

* Ib. 756 foil. 

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14 Suggestions Introductory to 

earlier parts of the work ^. Before the coming of the Arcadian 
Evander, Italy, according to the legend adopted by Vergil, was 
(like ancient Greece in Thucydides) subject to constant changes 
of inhabitants and of name^ infested by monsters ^, peopled by 
rude tribes led by savage warriors. When Aeneas arrives the 
state of things is more settled, Latinus is governing Latium and 
Evander his Arcadian colony in peace®. There are, however, 
relics of the older state of things; the Rutulian Tumus 
especially, and his ally the Etruscan Mezentius, show traces 
enough of the ancient barbarity. More must be said below in 
detail on the character of Tumus: at present it is only im- 
portant to remark that his alliance with Mezentius*, the 
*contemptor divum,' the leader of the robber bands whose 
custom it is to tie living bodies to corpses ^, is a trait significant 
enough of the conception which, as we shall presently see, 
Vergil intended us to form of the Rutulian hero. And who 
besides Mezentius are Tumus* chief allies? *Ductores primi 
Messapus et Ufens ®,' Messapus who towards the end of the story 
is one of the first and most eager to break the treaty solemnly 
sworn to Aeneas''^, Ufens the leader of the Aequi^ the hunter 
and robber tribe of the mountains, rugged above all others, 
who never lay aside their arms even to cultivate the ground. 
Besides these Vergil's story makes incidental mention of other 
warriors of a like type in alliance with Tumus. Remulus®, 

^ Aen. I. 265 : 'Bellum ingens geret Italia populofique ferocis 
lb, 5. 730 : 'Gens dura atqtie aspera culfcu 

Debellanda tibi Latio est.' 
' lb. 8. 338 : 'Turn xnanus Ausonia et'gentes venere Sicanae, 
Saepius et namen posuit Satumia tellus ; 
Turn reges asperque inmani corpore Thybris/ etc. 
Other monsters are Cacus (8. 185 foil.) and Emlus (ib. 563). 
» Ib. 7. 45. * Ib. 8. 493. » Ib. 483. • Ib. 6. 

^ Ib. 12. 289: 'Messapus . . . avidus confundere foedus.' 
. * Ib. 7. 745 foil. : ' Et te montosae misere in proelia Nersae, 
Ufens, insignem fama et felidbus armis ; 
Horrida praedpue cui gens, adsuetaque multo 
Venatu nemonim, dnris Aequicnla glaebis. 
Armati terram ezercent, semperque recentis 
Convectare iuvat praedas et vivere rapto.' 
* Ib. 9. 603-613 : 

'Durum ab stirpe genus natos ad flumina primum 

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a Study of the Aeneid. 15 

Tumus' brother-in-law, is the leader of a tribe closely resembling 
the Aequi, and described by Vergil in very similar language. 
Prom their infancy their training is that of hunters and warriors, 
their delight is in plunder and the life of robbers. Cisseus and 
Qyas* (*Cissea durum inmianemque Gyan') with their clubs, 
Caeculus the son of Vulcan 2, Metabus' the rude father of Camilla, 
the tyrant who, like Mezentius^ has been expelled from his own 
city for his deeds of violence, — all these are characters of the same 
kind, minor characters it is true^ and introduced incidentally 
only, but giving, in their general outline, a clear indication of 
Vergil's intention. Even Camilla, the warrior virgin, the 
Amazon^ as Vergil calls her, who takes in the Aeneid the 
part played by Penthesilea in the Epic cycle, seems intended 
as a model of rude hardihood at least as much as of romantic 

Having said so much briefly, and as an indication of what 
I think the main purport of the Aeneid, the idea of the sub- 
jugation of semi-barbarous tribes under a higher civilization 
and religion, I will endeavour to justify my remarks in detail 
by a continuous examination of the story, and of the development 
of action and character which it produces. When Aeneas lands 
in Latium to seek the alliance of Latinus and to found his city ^, 
divine oracles, widely known throughout the Italian cities, had 
spoken of a stranger who was to wed Latinus' daughter and to 
lay the foundation of a world-wide empire. Aeneas, through 
his ambassador, announces his landifig and asks, for a simple 
alliance with Latinus : Latinus offers this and the hand of his 
daughter besides. The king can, in any case, bestow his 

DeferimuB saevoque gelu duramuB et undis ; 
Venatu invigilant pueri, Edlvaaqtie &tigaiit ; 
Flectere ludns equoB et spicula tendere comu. 
At patiens operum parvoque adsueta iuventuB 
Aut rastris terram domat, aut quatit oppida bello. 
Omne aeyum ferro teritur, yeraaque luvencmn 
Teiga iatigamuB hasta ; nee tarda senectus 
Debilitat viris animi mutatque vigorem : 
Ganitiein galea premimus ; semperque recentiB 
Gomportare iuvat praedas et vivere rapto.' 
* Aen. 10. 317. » lb. 7. 678. » lb. 11. 539, 567. 

* lb. II. 648. » lb. 7.58, 104. 

Digitized by 


1 6 Suggestions Introductory to 

daughter as he chooses^ and in reading Vergil it must be re- 
membered always that Lavinia is never really betrothed to 
Tumus, who is only a suitor among other suitors, and differing 
from the rest in nothing but his ancestry and his beauty, and 
in having the fovour of the queen-mother^ on his side. To 
stir up a war for the sake of mere personal inclination against 
a cause manifestly favoured by the will of the gods would^ from 
the point of view of the ancient religions, as surely have 
been thought impious and perverse, as, from a modem point of 
view, it appears natural to centre our interest on the adventurous 
warrior who is ready to sacrifice his life for his love. But Vergil 
is not to be read as if he were a modem writer of romance, but 
to be interpreted according to the ideas of his time. We find in 
the Aeneid no genuine trace of sympathy either for Turnus or 
for the cause which he represents ^ ; such sympathy is a feeling 
induced by the spirit and associations of modern literature. 
When the treaty between Latinus and Aeneas is apparently 
concluded it is the element of obstinate female passion, repre- 
sented among the gods by Juno and among men by the queen 
Amata, joined to the headstrong violence of Tumus, which 
confounds the peace and embroils all in a long series of discord. 
The queen of heaven ^, unable to bend the gods above, stoops to 
move the powers of hell. The Fury Allecto, summoned from 
Tartams, first visits the queen Amata, already distracted by the 
new tum of events and infatuated in favour of Tumus. Driven 
wild by the opposition of the king, the queen * passes from one 

* Aen. 7. 55. 

^ Mr. Gladstone (Studies on Homer and the Homeric Age, 5. p. 512), speaks of 
* the superior character and attractiona of Tumus,* and of the poet being * now for 
once upon true national ground : he was an Italian minstrel singing to Italians, 
whether truly or mythically is of less consequence, about an Italian hero.' I cannot 
think that a careful study of the Aeneid will be found to bear out either part of 
this statement. 

» Aen. 7 286 foil. 

* lb. 7. 376 foil. : 

'Turn vero infelix, ingentibus ezdta monstris, 
Immensam sine more fiirit lymphata per urbem : 

Per medias urbes agitur populosque ferocis. 
Quin etiam in silvas, simulate numine Baochi, 
Mains adorta ne&s maioremque orsa furorem,' etc. 
The description of the queen, and more particularly the i-ngem colvher in which 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 17 

city, from one warlike tribe to another, calling on the people to 
redress her wrongs : then, in a feigned Bacchanalian frenzy, the 
frenzy, be it observed, of all most hateful to the genuine religious 
feeling of the Romans, hides her daughter in the mountains, and 
summons the matrons to join with her in her orgies. Meanwhile 
Tumus himself is visited by Allecto ^, who, in the guise of an 
aged priestess of Juno, exhorts him at once to force his will 
upon Latinus at the sword's point. And here let us observe the 
first touch, by no means, I venture to think, an insignificant 
one, in Vergil's sketch of Tumus' character. He receives the 
supposed priestess not, as might have been expected, with rever- 
ence, but with jeers. * Past bearing the truth, and palsied by dull 
inaction, thy dotage troubles thee in vain ; leave thy sooth- 
sayings and go back to tend the images and temple, thy proper 
care^.' These are the first words of the man whose violence 
(and he is the only character to whom Vergil applies the bad 
word violentia) we shall have occasion to notice many instances 
hereaflber. Tumus is in fact a barbarian *, a soldier, it is tme, 

the frenzy is embodied (v. 352) recalls Plutarch's description of the Bacchanalian 
celebrations of Olympias the mother of Alexander (Alex. 2) ^ Bk 'OXvfciridt /iokXoy 
Mpoay (rj\£faaaa reU tearox'^ fcdt tov$ kvOovauicrfio^i k(6,yovffa fiapfiapttdn-epov 6<f>€it 
/i§y6Xov8 xc<po4^'** ^^c^CTO rott $idffot$, ot voXXdtcts l« rod /cirrov koX tSjv fAvffTtxSjr 
XIkvojv irapayaJbv6iA€ifoi Kot v€pi€MTT6fi€vot rots $ijp<roi$ rw ywcuKonf koL tm arc^- 
vot9 i^irrXifrrov ro^ dyHpiu, * Aen. 7. 406 foil. 

' lb. 440 : ' Sed te victa situ yerique effeta senectus, 

O mater, curis nequiquam exercet, et anna 
Begum inter falsa vatem formidine ludit/ etc. 
» lb. 10. 151, II. 364, 376, 12. 9, 45. 

* libullus, 2. 5. 39 foil., has some verses which are worth quoting, as showing 
that a contemporaiy poet took the same view of the general scope of the story of 
Aeneas as that which I suppose to have been Vergil's own (if indeed the lines do 
not directly refer to the Aeneid) : 

'Impiger Aenea, volitantis frater Amoris 

Troica qui profugis sacra vehis ratibus, 

lam tibi Laurentes adsignat lupiter agros, 

lam vocat errantes hospita terra Lares. 

mic sanctus eris, cum te veneranda Numid 

Unda deum caelo miseiit Indigetem. 
Ecce super fessas volitat Victoria puppes : 
Tandem ad Troianos diva superba venit: 
Ecce mihi lucent Butulis incendia castris : 
lam tibi praedico, hvrbare Tume, necem. 
Ante oculos Laurens castrum murusque Lavinist 
Albaque ab Ascanio condita Longa duce.' 

Digitized by 


1 8 Suggestions Introductory to 

but still a barbarian^ in but few of his words and acts free from 
boasting and arrogance. His taunt to the supposed priestess is 
terribly answered ; in an agony of terror he shakes off his sleep, 
and then, changing fear for fury, sends at once to Latinus to 
break his peace with him, and takes the leadership of the new 
war into his own hands. He will be a match, he says, for 
Trojans and Latins alike ^ His rude Rutulians follow him, and 
the wild country folk are, by the agency of the Fury, stirred up 
to the quarrel. lulus in hunting chances to kill a stag be- 
longing to Tyrrheus, the master of Latinus' flocks and herds. 
At the voice of their sister Silvia the sons of Tyrrheus and the 
stubborn rustics flock together with any rude weapon they can 
seize ; the Trojan youth are ready to meet them, and the battle 
becomes general. Only one voice is raised in favour of peace, 
that of the aged Galaesus, the most righteous in the Ausonian 
fields, who is slain in the attempt at mediation ^. 

Then Juno' brings matters to a head, and the violence of 
Tumus joins with the Bacchanalian frenzy of Amata and the 
other matrons to call for the accursed strife which the omens 
and the oracles of the gods have forbidden. Latinus, unmoved 
by their clamour as a rock by the tumult of the waves, is never- 
theless powerless to resist the course of events. Overcome by 
despair, he retires into the palace and resigns the reins of govern- 

At this point* the poet takes the opportunity of mustering 
before the eye of the reader the forces which come to the aid 
of Turnus. The catalogue in the seventh book is not merely a 
piece of artistic workmanship, intended to exhibit the rhetorical 
skill of Vergil. It is a tribute to the greatness of Italy in her 
early days ; to the land which even of old was the mother of 
armies and of heroic leaders^. Considered from this point of 
view, this episode is singularly in place, and the fineness and 

1 Aen. 7. 467 foU. « lb. 535. » lb. 577 foU. 

* Gladstone, 1. c, p. 504 says, * Virgil in his iniitation of the Homeric Catalogue 
. . . with vast and indeed rather painful effort, carries us through his long list 
at a laboriously sustained elevation.' The catalogue is tedious enough, no doubt, if 
it be regarded as a mere imitation of Homer : but it is not just to consider it in this 

* Aen. 7. 643 : ' Quibub Italia iam tum 

floruerit terra alma Tiris, quibus arserit armis.' 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 19 

beauty of the details are enhanced (as always) by the appropriate- 
ness of the setting. 

The seventh book has introduced us to the rude tribes of Italy 
and their barbarous chiefs: the eighth book opens with the 
tumult of war and the wild fierceness of the maddened Italian 
youth. The opening scene over, we are presented with another 
picture : that of Aeneas communing with the river-god Tiber \ 
and, in obedience to the omen pointed out to him, rowing his 
quiet way up the stream among the boughs of trees, and pre- 
senting himself before Evander, the king of the Arcadian settle- 
ment, Evander, when he receives Aeneas, is celebrating a 
festival in honour of Hercules*^. More will be said below on 
the fitness of the episode now introduced by Vergil ; it will be 
sufficient to observe here that its general purport is doubtless 
twofold : on the one hand to suggest the parallel between the 
exploits of Alcides and those of the mythical founder of Rome, 
and on the other, to give a poetical colouring to the actually 
existing worship of Hercules, the special god of conquerors and 
of successful men generally, which was a main element in the 
Roman religion. After the majestic story of Hercules' exploits, 
happily put by Vergil into the mouth of Evander, is finished, the 
Arcadian king describes to his guest the former condition of the 
land which he has come to govern ^, and guides him over the 
spots hereafter to become famous in the Rome of history. But 
this is not enough for Vergil, who wishes not merely to throw 
an antiquarian interest around the early state of Italy and the 
places which fable or religion had hallowed in Rome, but to give 
a foreshadowing of the greater glories of actual Roman history, 
culminating before his poetic imagination in the newly-founded 
empire of the Caesars. We are prepared accordingly for the 
episode of the shield of Aeneas. In trouble for her son's safety, 
Venus asks Vulcan for divine armour to shield him* ; we are 
introduced for a moment to the forges of the Cyclopes and the 
moulding of the divine weapons, and then brought back again to 

Comp. G. 2. 173: 'Salve, magna parens frugum, Satumia tellus. 
Magna virum.' 
In the sixth Aeneid (v. 784) similar language is applied to Bome, which in 
Vergil*s view had absorbed the manhood and strength of Italy. 
» Aen. 8. 31 foil. « lb. 102 foU. » lb. 306 foil. * lb. 369. 

C 2 

Digitized by 


20 Suggestions Introductory to 

the danger of the hero in the new country of his hopes, sur- 
rounded by enemies, and without an ally except Evander. 
Aeneas sets out, on the advice of Evander, to ask the aid of the 
Etruscans of Caere, long in revolt against their savage king 
Mezentius. Arrived there, he is visited by his goddess mother, 
bearing the divinely-&shioned armour, and above all the shield, 
on which the hand of the god has engraved the story of the 
future destinies and glories of Rome ^. 

It is perhaps hardly necessary to dwell on the ninth book, the 
absence of Aeneas, the siege of his camp, the episode of Nisus 
and Euryalus. Vergil's handling of the story in this case is not 
an instance of his happier manner : the incidents are contrived 
with too rigid an adherence to the outline given in the Hiad, and, 
in spite of great beauties of detail, the reader is sensible 
throughout of a certain awkwardness and pointlessness in the 
whole. This fact has been dwelt upon by critics, as it is indeed 
obvious ; but I must not leave the ninth book without remark- 
ing upon the light which it throws upon the character of Turnus 
as conceived by Vergil. The picture of him, as he comes before 
the beleaguered walls, is no doubt the picture of a bold warrior ^ ; 
but there are touches of something besides bravery. There is 
the old wildness^ in his air; like Amata, as described in her 
frenzy* in the seventh book, he is on fire, like the blazing pine- 
torch which he carries. When the Trojan ships are saved from 
his attack, by the interposition of Cybele, he is ready with an 
application of the omen to the Trojans ; for the oracles which 
they carry with them he cares nothing^. Forgetting that 
Lavinia has never even been betrothed to him, he accuses Aeneas 
of repeating the ofience of Paris. The narrative of his exploits 
in the ninth book need not detain us longer, but the develop- 
ment of the story in the later books brings out more clearly than 
ever the contrast between Aeneas and the rude warrior who is 

^ Aen. 8. 731 : 'Attollens umero fiunamque et fata nepotum.* 

» lb. 9. 47 foU. 

' lb. 57 : 'Hue turbidus atque hue 

Lufltrat equo muros.' 
* lb. 72 : 'Atque mannm pinu flagranti fervidns implet.' 

Comp. 7. 397 (of Amata) : ' Ipsa inter mediae flagrantem fervida pinum sustinet.* 
» lb. 9. 128 foU. 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aefieid. 2 \ 

opposed to him. The tenth book brings Aeneas back to his 
soldiers from the embassy in which he has instructed the 
Etruscan king of Caere of the resources of Mezentius and the 
violent passions of Tumus^. The conflicts which ensue lead up 
to the death of Pallas at the hand of Turnus^ and that of Lausus 
and his father Mezentius at the hand of Aeneas. Let us look 
for a moment at the way in which the two warriors respectively 
behave at the moment of their triumph. Tumus approaches 
Pallas with the savage wish that his father Evander were there 
to see him fall 2. In the combat that follows Pallas is slain; 
Tumus sends him back, he says, as Evander deserved to see him. 
' Whatever honour there be in a mound of earth*, whatever 
consolation in covering him with the ground, I freely grant.' 
Unchecked by the thought that a day of vengeance will one day 
be at hand, Tumus allows free play to his arrogant thoughts : 
he robs the belt of the fallen youth, and wears it exulting on his 
own shoulders, triumphing insolently in the slaughter which he has 
just dealt ^. Aeneas, infuriated, seizes eight youths as an offering 
to the Manes of Pallas^, and the battle proceeds with renewed 

* Aen. 10. 151 : 'Violentaque pectora Tumi 

Edocet.' « lb. 442. 

' lb. 492 : ' Qualem meruit, Pallanta remitto : 

Quisquis honos tumuli, quidquid solamen humandi est, 

* lb. 513 : 'Te, Tume, superbum 

Caede nova quaereuB.' 
^ The 'barbara atque immanis consuetudo hominum immolandorum ' (Cicero pro 
Fonteio 10. 31) bad ceased to form a part of the regular Roman state-religion. 
But the practice of getting rid of a political enemy on the pretext of sacrificing 
him to the Manes of a slain opponent was not unknown to the passions of the last 
century of the republic. It is thus that Lucan describes the brutal murder of 
Marius Gratidianus at the hands of Catiline (2. 173) : 

'Quid sanguine Manes 

Placates Catuli referam? cui victima tristes 

Inferias Marius, forsan nolentibus umbris, 

Pendit, inexpleto non fimda piacula busto.' 
Comp. Cic. in Pisonem, 7. 16: *a me quidem etiam poenas expetistis quibus con- 
iuratorum manes mortuorum expiaretis . . . Quorum ego furori nisi cessissem, in 
Catilinae busto vobis ducibus mactatus essem.* Suetonius says of Augustus him- 
self (Aug. 15): 'Scribunt quidam trecentos ex. dediticiis electos utriusque or- 
dinis ad aram Divo lulio exstructam Idibus Martiis hostianmi more mactatos.' 
The mere possibility that such an act could be imputed to Augustus is character- 
istic of the times, and may perhaps partly explain why Vergil attributes to Aeneas 
an act which seems at first sight so alien to the character of Ms hero, however 
suitable it may appear to that of the Homeric Achilles. 

Digitized by 


22 Suggestions Introductory to 

ardour. The book ends with the exploits of Mezentius and his 
son Lausus, and the death of the latter at the hand of Aeneas. 
The narrative of Lausus' death must detain us a moment as an 
instance both of the general pathos of Vergil's manner and of 
his conception of Aeneas' character, as throughout the foil and 
contrast to that of Turnus. Lausus, seeing his father Mezentius 
in danger^ wards oflF from him the blow of Aeneas' sword, and 
turns the whole brunt of the battle against the Trojan hero. 
Aeneas warns him of his certain fate, but in vain ; Lausus rushes 
impetuously against his stronger enemy. His end is upon him, 
he falls ; Aeneas, touched at the example of a son's devotion, 
takes him by the hand, and in words full of dignity and com- 
passion refuses to take from him the armour which he loved. 
It is worth while to attend to the difference between Aeneas' 
conduct in the case of Lausus and that of Turnus in the case 
of Pallas, and especially to the language in which each addresses 
his fellen enemy. ' Whatever honour there may be in a mound 
of earth, whatever consolation in covering him with the ground, 
I freely grant.' * What worthy reward can Aeneas give thee 
now, poor boy; Aeneas who loved his father, for deeds such as 
thine, for such nobility of soul ? Keep as thine own the arms 
that have been thy joy, and I send thee back to the spirits and 
ashes of thy fethers, if they have any care for such things^.' 

The book ends with the death of Mezentius, the last quieting 
of the savage violence of his souP. Vergil has been censured for 
calling Mezentius a disdainer of the gods and a tyrant to his 
people, and yet attributing to him the love for his son and affec- 
tion for his horse, which add so much pathos to the closing scenes 
of the tenth book. I venture to think that had the harsher 
features of Mezentius' character been dwelt upon at length, all 
the human interest which now attends his fate would have 
vanished. His cruelty and impiety, now things of the past, 
were suflSciently indicated before, and it is enough for the poet 

* Aen. 10. 796 foil. 

* lb. 825 : 'Quid tibi nunc, miserande puer, pro laudibus iatis, 

Quid pius Aeneas tanta dabit indole dignum ? 
Arma, quibus laetatus, habe tua; teque parentum 
ManibuB et dneri, si qua est ea cura, remitto." 
^ lb. 897 : ' Ubi nunc Mezentius acer, et ilia 

Effera vis animi?* 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aenetd. 23 

to mark his character in this context by comparing his furious 
entrance on the field to the march of the terrible storm-god 
Orion through the ocean \ But Mezentius, though a barbarian 
and a tyrant, has the feelings of a man ; his passionate love of 
his son is in reality one of the most natural traits in such a 
character. Who would care to read Herodotus' story of Periander, 
the son of Cypselus, were his fierceness unredeemed by his love 
for his son Lycophron ? We ought not to deny to Vergil the 
praise which he deserves for having refused to stain his pages 
by the coarse portraiture of a monster. 

With the death of Pallas on one hand, and that of Lausus and 
Mezentius on the other, a break naturally occurs in the story 
of the war. Aeneas has no tenderness for Mezentius as he had 
for his son : he strips him of his armour, with which he raises a 
trophy to the god of war*. Both sides pause to bury their dead, 
and at no point in the course of the story, except perhaps at the 
beginning of the sixth book, does the heroic outline in which Vergil 
evidently intended to draw the character of Aeneas become more 
apparent. If confirmation of this view be needed^ a careful study of 
the first hundred and fifty lines of the eleventh book will amply 
supply it. After the burial scenes we are introduced to the discords 
long previously existing, and now more openly showing themselves, 
in the camp of the Latins^. Drances especially heads a cry that it 
is on Turnus' head alone that the responsibility of the war ought 
to fall, that he should meet Aeneas in single combat if he claim 
for himself the first honours of the Italian kingdom. Meanwhile, 
the ambassadors previously sent to ask aid against the Trojans 
from Diomede return with the gloomy message that their labour 
has been in vain*. Latinus assembles a council, in which he 
proposes to come to terms with Aeneas and to give the Trojans 

* Aen. 10. 763 : 

'Turbidus ingreditur campo. Quam magnus Orion/ etc. 
« lb. II. 5 foU. 

* lb. 217 foil. : 

* Dirum exsecrantur bellum Tumique hymenaeoB ; 
Ipsum armis, ipsumque iubent decemer© feiro. 
Qui regnum Italiae et primos sibi poscat honored. 

Multa simul contra variis sententia dictis 
Pro Tumo,' etc. 

* lb. II. 325 foil. 

Digitized by 


24 Suggestions Introductory to 

a tract of land to settle upon, and to take them into perpetual 
alliance. The proposal is supported by Drances, to whom 
Tumus replies in a speech of splendid spirit and eloquence^ but 
full also, as Vergil clearly intends to imply, of the infetuate 
presumption which is to prove his ruin. He will meet Aeneas, 
he says, even if he come in the guise of the great Achilles, and^ 
like him, clad in divine armour^. The sequel will show how the 
promise is fulfilled. Meanwhile a panic and confusion arise in 
the assembly at the reported approach of the Trojan army. 
Tumus seizes the moment^ to make further deliberation impos- 
sible, and without consultation with his peers hurries from the 
council and makes his dispositions fof a battle. As before, his 
rude followers are eager for war ; as before, Latinus is helpless 
and compelled to abandon his designs for peace ; as before, the 
war is undertaken without a thought of anything but the desires 
and ambition of Tumus. The interest of the battle which ensues 
centres chiefly in the heroic deeds and the death of the virgin 
CamiUa, just as Mezentius was made the central figure in the 
events described at the end of the tenth book. Camilla slain, 
the last hope of the Butulians, Tumus excepted, is gone, and the 
daring Butulian leader is compelled at last to consent to meet 
Aeneas alone, to take the burden of the war on his own shoulders, 
and to grant peace to his people and to the party opposed to 
him '. His mien is distracted ^, his consent is expressed in lan- 
guage bitter, arrogant, and disdainful. The attempt of Latinus, 
— who represents that, for love of Tumus and for the tears of 
Amata, he has broken all bonds of duty, has disobeyed the com- 
mand of the gods, violated his covenant with Aeneas, and taken 

* Aen. II. 438 : 

'Ibo animis contra, vel magnum praestet Achillem 
Factaque Yolcani manibns paria induat anna 
Die licet; 
like so many other words of Tumus, these recall the words of Hector : in this 
instance Yeigil is probably adapting H. 20. 371 : 

ToO 8' \'>((i) dvTlot c7/ii Koi cl irvpil x^V^ ioiKtv, 
E2 nvpi x<<P^* Jfo(«c, iAho9 8* at$wt <n^pq>, 

* lb. 459- » lb. 12. I foil. 

* lb. 9 : ' Haud secus acoenso glisdt violentia Tumo. 

Turn dc ad&tur regem, atque ita turbidus infit : 
Nulla mora in Tumo ; nihil est, quod dicta retractent 
Ignavi Aeneadae, nee, quae pepigere, recusent. 
Congredior. Fer sacra, pater, et concipe foedus,* etc. 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 25 

up arms for impiety, — to dissuade Turnus from entering on the 
unequal conflict, are in vain ^. The violence of Turnus increases ^, 
the disease grows under the attempt to heal it. The queen 
Amata, terrified at last into submission, follows her husband in 
the endeavour to persuade Turnus, threatening to die by her 
own hand' if Aeneas (as she too plainly forebodes) prove vic- 
torious. But Turnus is on fire with love and rage, and insists, 
as he cannot but insist, on the agreement being carried out. 
The arrangements for the treaty are concluded, Aeneas and 
Latinus ratify it with a solemn oath, and the single combat is 
about to begin. 

But again the wild Butulians^ and the leaders friendly to 
Turnus show that they will be bound by no treaty. Wten the 
solemn covenant is concluded they refuse to abide by it ; even 
the Latins, lately so eager for peace, change their minds, and 
with the help of the nymph Jutuma, Turnus' sister, the rude 
multitude is excited to raise a fresh quarrel. The augur To- 
lumnius, falsely interpreting an omen which is in reality adverse 
to him, leads the way in a direct attack upon the Trojans ^. The 
battle becomes general, Messapus showing himself conspicuous 
among the covenant-breakers, and Latinus flies with the gods 
whose presence has hallowed the treaty. Aeneas acts as becomes 
him, with bared head and outstretched hand calling to his men 
to keep the peace ®. At this moment he is wounded by an un- 
seen hand, and then Turnus, seeing him retreating from the 
ranks, comes forward not as a peacemaker, but to take advantage 
of the absence of Aeneas in order to lead a more violent attack 
upon the Trojans. This is the end of his boasting and his 
promises, to act as Paris acts in the Iliad when Menelaus is 
wounded"^. The battle rages on, till at length Aeneas threatens 
to destroy the faithless city of Latinus itself. The instincts of 

' Aen. 1 2. 39 : 

' y ictus amore tui, cognato sanguine yictus, 

Coniugis et maestae lacrimis, vinda omnia rupi : 

Promissam eripui genero ; arma impia sumpsL* 
* lb. 45 : * Haudquaquam dictis violentia Tumi 

Flectitur; ezsuperat magis, aegrescitque medendo. 

Ut primum fxA potuit/ etc. 
' H)' 55 : ' Ardentem generum morituia tenebat.* 

< lb. 216 foil. » lb. 258 foU. • lb. 311 foil. 

^ Yet Mr. Gladstone (Studies, etc., voL Hi. p. 508) speaks of 'the genuine and 

Digitized by 


26 Suggestions Introductory to 

a soldier awake in Tumus' breast; he resolves at least to go 
down to the spirits of his ancestors a soul unstained by 
cowardice^. A messenger comes to him to tell him of the 
coming doom of the city, and to reproach him for his absence 
from the scene of danger ^. Tumus is confounded by the dis- 
tracting view brought before him ; shame, madness, love, and 
conscious manhood shake his bosom with the surging of con- 
flicting passion. At length the shadows break and light 
returns to his mind ; he looks towards the city and sees a tower, 
which he himself had built, in flames j his resolve is at length 
made up, the stain of dishonour is to rest upon him no longer, 
he goes to meet his doom. 


Having tried so far to trace the main thread of idea and in- 
tention which runs through the Aeneid, I propose to offer a few 
remarks upon a far harder question, the question, namely, what 
influence mainly determined Vergil in the treatment of his 
materials. This part of the subject falls naturally into two 
heads, the first of which embraces the consideration of the form 
of the poem, and the second that of the main literary, ethical, 
and religious conceptions which determined the cast of Vergil's 
characters and the whole inner side (so to speak) of the story 
in its development. 

First, then, what determined the form in which the Aeneid 
is written ? Vergil is thought of generally as one of the most 
imitative, perhaps the most imitative, of poets ancient or modem. 
This is an easy and obvious criticism : it is not however so often 
asked how this fact came about, whether it is due to Vergil's 
fault or want of original power, or whether it was an inevitable 
accident of his time and his general literary surroundings, an 
accident too which has befallen other poets besides him. I have 
little hesitation in expressing my opinion that of the two alterna- 

manly character of Tumus,* in whom 'we do not find a single trait feeble in itself 
or unworthy of the masculine idea and intention of the portrait.' 
^ Aen. 12. 646 : 'Yos o mihi Manes 

Este boni, quoniam Superis aversa voluntas. 
Sancta ad vos anima> atque istius inscia culpae 
Descendam, magnorum haud unquam indignus avorum.' 
» lb. 650 foil. 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 27 

tives the latter is the true one. It was impossible for any ancient 
poet, as it is for any poet or indeed any artist at all, to start with a 
clear field, to leave the works of his predecessors out of count al- 
together. An artist, be he poet, painter, architect, or musician must, 
if he is to be great, have in him the vital power of creation, the spirit 
of life ; but he cannot any the more for this, except at his own 
peril, disengage himself from the antecedents of his art. This 
would be to disown the continuity of thought, to reject the 
glorious inheritance left to him, to waste his labour in perish- 
able and abortive effort. This is especially true, I venture to 
think, of the two most inward and spiritual of the arts, poetry 
and music. No one blames Milton for absorbing into his poetry 
the forms and spirit of classical and Italian writings, or Beet- 
hoven for absorbing into his music the forms and spirit of 
Haydn and Mozart. If Vergil was imitative, he shares that 
quality with other great artists, and the fact, so far as it goes, is 
not his reproach but his highest praise. What however strikes 
and offcen offends a modem reader in Vergil is not so much that 
he imitates other poets, but that his imitations seem crude, 
obvious, and often inappropriate. In numberless instances he 
gives not merely subtle reminiscences (such as we find in Dante 
and Milton of Vergil himself) but direct translations from 
Greek poetry, especially from the Homeric poems, and whole 
phrases directly transferred from his Roman predecessors, Ennius, 
Lucretius, and Catullus. Incidents not seldom find a place in 
Vergil's narrative for no other apparent reason than because 
they or something like them have occurred in Homer; his 
similes are often either directly copied with more or less adorn- 
ment from Homer, or worked up from Homeric material ; his 
very characters seem suggested by those of the Greek Epic cycle, 
Aeneas representing Achilles; Dido, Calypso; Camilla, Penthesi- 
leia; Tumus, Hector and Paris together. Two books in the 
Aeneid are given to Aeneas' narrative of the fall of Troy, because 
a considerable space is given in the Odyssey to narratives in like 
manner incidentally inserted ; one book is given to the games 
held in honour of Anchises, because a book of the Iliad is given 
to the games held in honour of Patroclus ; the descent of Aeneas 
into Hades recalls the journey of Odysseus to the land of shadows. 
It is impossible for us now to estimate accurately the amount 

Digitized by 


28 Suggestions Introductory to 

of Vergil's debt to the lost writers of the Epic cycle*, but several 
indications seem to show that it was considerable. The relation 
of parts of the Aeneid to the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius 
has been admirably discussed in Conington's Introduction to the 
Aeneid. But it is not only these broad features of the narrative 

^ As far as we can make out from the very scanty materials now existing, Vergil 
seems to. have followed Arctinns more than any other of the cyclic poets. The 
Aethiopis of that poet contained the arrival of the Amazon Penthesileiay which 
doubtless suggested to Vergil the introduction of Camilla. See the analysis of 
Piodus, ap. Welcker, Epischer Cydus, 2. p. 531, *A/ia(oirv TL^vB^aiXua, wapaybftrcu 
Tpeaal avfiitaxfiffowra, "Apcon iilv Bvyar^ ^pfffffa 8c rd yivot .... M^fu^oiF 82 6 
'HoOt vld» txM^ ii<paiffT6T€VKTW travofirklay irapayivenu rois Tpcaffl fioi]0if<reay. The last 
lines of the description of the picture seen by Aeneas in the temple at Carthage 
seem a condensed representation of the subjects of the Aethiopis : 
'Eoasque ades et nigri Menmonis arma, 
Bucit Amazonidum lunatis agmina peltis 
Penthesilea fiirens, mediisque in milibus ardet/ etc. 

(Aen. I. 489). 
Bido^s question, 'Quibus Aurorae venisset filius armiaf (Aen. i. 751), doubtless 
refers to the ijipaiffrSTtvicTot myowkla of Memnon. It may perhaps be worth while 
to notice that Aictinus in the same poem represented Ajaz as slaying himself 
ircp2 rbv 6p$pw. (Schol. Find. Isthm. 4. 58, ap. Welcker 1. c. p. 525). The same 
is the case with Bido in the fourth Aeneid (v. 585 foll.% a parallel which would not 
be worth pressing were it not that the acts and words of Vergil's Dido so often 
recall those of the Ajaz of Sophocles, who would probably use the story of Arctinus 
as material for his tragedy. 

The 'IXtov vipatt of Arctinus, so &r as we can judge from the bare analysis 
of Produs, must have been followed pretty closely in its main outline by Vergil in 
the second Aeneid. In his account of the debate about the wooden horse Vergil 
keeps nearer to Arctinus (if Produs' analysis is to be trusted) than to the Odyssey. 
ToTt fih^ BoK€t Karajcprjfxvlaai airrbv, rott 82 icaTa^k4y€iVf ol 82 ltp6v aibrhiv tSyarc^FOi. 
The order in which the proposals are mentioned is the same as that given in the 
second Aendd (v. 36), and the proposal, mentioned both by Arctinus and Vergil, 
to bum the horse, is an addition to the account given in Homer. The story of 
Laocoon as we have it in the second Aeneid, that of Sinon, and that of the murder 
of Priam by Pyrrhus at the altar of Zc^« 'E^vcxos, were all contained in the *l)dov 
iripffit of Aictinus : and so was that of the death of Bdphobus at the hand of 
Menelaus, which would well agree with the account supposed to be given by the 
shade of Bdphobus to Aeneas (Aen. 6. 525). If Wdcker be right (Ep. Cyd. 2. 
p. 235) in saying that the works of Arctinus appear to have been the most consider- 
able among the poems of the Trojan cyde after ihe Iliad and Odyssey, Vergil may be 
supposed to have followed him from poetical preference. From the story of the 
capture of Troy and the Little Iliad of Lesdies, Vergil does not seem to have 
borrowed much : indeed in details, as &r as our evidence goes, he seems to have 
followed an altogether different tradition from that adopted by Lesches, who repre- 
sented the murder of Priam as occurring not at the altar of Ztb» ^EpKciot, but at the 
door of his palace : who made Aeneas' wife not Creusa but Eurydice, and who gave 
Aeneas himsdf as a captive to Neoptolemus. (Welcker, 1. c. p. 538), Pausanias 
(lo. 25 fbU.) describes some pictures of the night-battle in Troy at Belphi by 
Polygnotus, who, he thinks, followed the account given by Leaches. The details o( 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 29 

which are copied ; the spirit of imitation pervades the minutest 
details of VergiFs execution. To pursue this subject into all its 
minutiae is the duty of a commentator : in considering it generally 
we need only glance at the literary conditions which made such 
a state of things not only possible but inevitable. The kind of 
crude and external imitation which we find in Vergil is cha- 
racteristic of all the serious B/oman poetry: Ennius imitates 
Homer ; Lucretius, Ennius ; few pages of Ovid (to say nothing 
of later poets) are free from imitations of Vergil. Even the 
Greek poets, free and spontaneous as they are, draw largely upon 
Homeric ideas and even upon Homeric phrases ; a Roman poet^ 
who owed to Greece the whole awakening of his spiritual life, 
would have considered it little short of madness to desert the 
Greek models. The only great presentment of heroic times 
open to Vergil was that of the Homeric poems ; it would have 
seemed impossible for him to cast his epic in any mould but in 
that of the Iliad and Odyssey. To reproduce their form in 
Roman outline, use their details, absorb their spirit, surpass if 
possible their effect, would be his first and most natural am- 
bition*. It would not strike a poet of his time as it would a 
poet of our own that an imitation should be rather suggested 
than paraded. Complex and (as the phrase is) modem as were 
the circumstances of Roman society and ideas in Vergil's time, 
the Roman poets were still simple enough to think that open 
imitation was rather a grace than a defect. The nobler carrying 
out of the spirit of imitation, which is now the birthright of 
every true poet, and which consists in inward reminiscences of 
the spirit rather than open reproduction of the forms of past 
poetry, though by no means unknown to Vergil, as we shall see 
below in the case of his treatment of Lucretius, had not in 
his time worked its way to exclusive predominance. 

these pictures cannot be brought into harmony with Vergil's account of the night- 
battle in the second Aeneid, nor do the names of the fighters, as a rule, occur there. 
The love of Coroebus for Cassandra is mentioned (lo. 27. i), so that Conington is 
probably wrong (on a. 341) in attributing this part of the story to a mere imitation 
ofH. 13. 363 foU. 

Whether the sixth Aeneid was at all influenced by the account of Hades and its 
terrors which, according to Pausanias (10. a8. 4), was contained in the Minyas and 
the "SSoTOtf cannot be ascertained. 

' See the beginning of the third Georgic, especially the lines — 

'Primus ego in patriam mecum, modo vita supersit, 
Aonio rediens deducam vertice Musas/ 

Digitized by 


30 Suggestions Introdtutory to 

If, then, Vergil constructed his Aeneid upon the lines of the 
Greek epic, he did what no Roman poet who wished to rise above 
the rank of an annalist could have helped doing. As little could 
he help using to the full the stores of genuine Roman poetry 
that lay ready to his hand in the works of Ennius and Lucretius. 
In all this he was acting in strict accordance with the spirit of 
his age, and indeed of classical antiquity generally ; nor is it 
necessary to dwell longer upon this head. I pass therefore to the 
consideration of the second point, the main moral and religious 
conceptions which seem to have determined the cast of the charac- 
ters and the whole inner side of the development of the story. 
The form of the Aeneid is that of the Greek epic ; not so, however, 
the cast of the principal thoughts which underlie it. These are 
partly Greek, partly Roman; but when Greek represent rather 
the traditions of the Attic stage and (I venture to think in some 
cases) of the writings called Orphic than of the Homeric poems. 

We have seen that the main conception of the Aeneid is that 
of the conquering and civilizing power of Rome directed by a 
divine providence : resistance to this divinely-ordered course of 
events being represented as the work of inferior deities, rude 
races, and the baser human passions. It may be said that to a 
great extent Vergil works out this theme in accordance with the 
ideas which inspired the great masters of the Athenian stage. 
The deeper and more religious view of the conflict of individual 
inclination with the divine will which is presented, according 
to their different manners, by Aeschylus and Sophocles, and 
though in a less marked manner by Euripides, was impossible 
to the simplicity of the Homeric times. The reign of my- 
thology was, in the age of the Attic drama, past, and that 
of thought had begun, or, in other words, mythology gave 
the form and thought the matter to the creative power of the 
poet. This is precisely the case with the mythology of the 
Aeneid in its relation to the inner ideas of the poem. Imitations 
and reminiscences of the great Greek tragedians may be noticed 
by any one who reads Vergil with a good commentary, nor can 
I do better than refer anyone who wishes for a text, from which 
to work out this subject, to Conington's ncite on Aen. 4. 469 ^, 

^ 'Eumenidum veluti demens videt agmina Pentheus 

Et solem geminum et duplicis se ostendere Thebas; 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 31 

where Vergil, with the utmost beauty and delicacy of his man- 
ner, expresses the sense of his debt to the Athenian drama. I 
wish, however, to call attention to a broader fact than this; to the 
fact, namely, which I think becomes abundantly clear to the 
student of Vergil, that the spirit of the whole action and play of 
character in the Aeneid is very like the spirit which animates 
the action and play of character with which the Greek tragedy 
has made us ^miliar. The plot involves the resistance of indi- 
vidual passion and inclination to the more widely-reaching 
divine purpose; human passion bent on its own fulfilment in 
contempt of the go,ds, and ending, as it can only end, in infatua- 
tion and ruin. This main idea is in the strict sense of the word 
tragic, and Vergil has worked it out" with all the dignity and 
purity of Sophocles. 

To illustrate these remarks I must dwell for a few moments 
on the episode of Dido. The Carthaginian queen is brought 

Aut Agamemnoniufl scaenis agitatus Orestes 
Armatam facibus matrem et serpentibus atris 
Cum fugit, ultricesque sedent in limine Dirae.' 
I quote the following remarks from Ck>mngton's admirable note on this passage : 
' Virgil must be judged by his own standard ; and there is nothing inconsistent 
with that standard in supposing that the Pentheus of his thoughts was the 
Pentheus of Euripides, the Orestes of Aeschylus. He doubtless felt that it was 
to the stage that he owed the glorious vision of their madness, and he was glad 
to make the acknowledgment. It is this feeling which dictates the presents, 
" videt," " fugit," " sedent." The frenzy of the Theban and the Argive is not a 
thing of the past, embalmed in legend ; it is constantly repeating itself; it is 
present as often as the Baochae or the Eumenides are acted, read, or remembered.* 
Mr. Gladstone (Studies, etc., vol. iii. p. -516 foil.) censures Vergil for confusing 
the Hellenes with the Pelasgi and the Dorians, the Trojans with the Dardanians 
and Phrygians, the Simois with the Scamander, and other departures from the nomen- 
clature of the Biad. Most of these confusions, if they are such, find parallels 
in the works of the Greek tragedians, which, considering how much these poets 
drew upon the traditions of the Epic cycle, may point to variations of nomenclature 
eadier than the age of the Attic drama. An instance or two may be quoted. The 
epithet Aw/x's stands for Greek in general in Euripides, Troades 233, lov\m 7A/) 8^ 
Aa;p(5os loiCiiV y9Qvh% ijSrj, comp. Hecuba 450 : UeXaayucby arpdrtvfxa for the 
Greek army in Euripides, Phoenissae 106 : AapS&vios for Trojan in the Troades 
534, 816, 840, comp. Helena 1493 : ^pvyes is applied by Sophocles to the Trojans, 
Ajax 1054, and in a fragment of the AoKaivai (338 in Nauck's fragments of the 
Greek tragedians : see also the references given by Nauck on fragm. 336) ; by 
Euripides, Hecuba 4 and elsewhere, sometimes, as in Vergil, with the im- 
plication of effeminacy. As to the Simois and the Scamander, it may be 
observed that Aeschylus and Sophocles never mention the Simois, but that in 
Euripides this river is oftener mentioned than the Scamander. Other details 
of this kind have been dealt with by Conington in his commentary. 

Digitized by 


32 Suggestions Introductory to 

before us in the first book. From the first her character and 
lineaments have the mark of true royalty ^. Beautiful as Diana she 
appears passing through the midst of her people, her thoughts 
bent eagerly on her kingdom that is to be *, and sitting down in 
the midst of her armed body-guard to give laws and ordinances 
to her subjects. The ambassadors of Aeneas appear asking for 
her protection from fire and sword : with queenly generosity she 
at once acknowledges the greatness of the Trojan leader, and 
offers his followers either a safe escort to Sicily or a share in her 
own city and kingdom. Aeneas appears : his mien, his kingly 
expression of gratitude^, and the greatness of his misfortune 
move her to the noble avowal, * I too have been hurried hither 
and thither by a like Fortune through many struggles, before 
she willed that I should at length settle on this land : I know 
what evil is and learn to succour the miserable^.' An inter- 
change of magnificent presents follows, after the fashion of the 
heroic ages ; then, by the agency of Juno and Venus, the queen 
is devoted to a deeper passion ; woman-like, she is moved by the 
gifts of Aeneas and the beauty of his supposed son ^, whose form 
Cupid has assumed. But leaving Cupid and his mythology, 
Vergil soon returns to nature. It is the exploits of Aeneas and 
the dangers he has passed which move the queen ^. She asks 
again and again of Paris and Hector and the heroic story, the 
divinely-fashioned arms of Memnon, the horses of Diomede, the 
stature of Achilles ; nor is she content until Aeneas has told her 
at length the story of the fall of Troy and his wanderings that 

The tale of heroic suffering and achievement does its work, 
the queen is no longer herself, the constancy of her mind is 
shaken. She sees before her eyes the possibility of a falling away 
from her first love ; the thought is like madness to her, and she 
invokes the curse of Heaven upon her head if she forget her 

^ Aen. I. 496 : 'Begina ad templmn, forma pulcherTima Dido, 

^ lb. 504 : < Instans operi regnisque futuris.* 

• lb. 597. 

* lb. 628 : ' Me quoque per multoe edmiliB foitima laborea 

lactatam hac demum voluit oonaistere terra. 
Non ignara mali miseris suocurrere disoo.* 
» lb. 714. • lb. 749. ^ lb. 4. 8 : 'Male sana.' 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 33 

honour and her truth *. Her sister dispels her doubts by a plea 
which Dido, as a queen, cannot resist. She has not yielded, and 
perhaps would not yield, to mere personal passion; but when 
Anna represents to her that a union with Aeneas will mean the 
union of the Tyrian and Trojan empires, and the great increase 
of the glory of Carthage 2, she gives way, and her fate is sealed 
from that moment. In the true spirit of tragic irony Vergil 
represents Dido and her sister as sacrificing to win the favour of 
Heaven, from which she has just invoked a curse on her faith- 
lessness; and to what gods does she sacrifice? To Ceres, 
Apollo, and Lyaeus, the deities presiding over the foundation 
of cities and the giving of laws, when she is forgetting her 
duty as a queen ; to Juno the goddess of marriage, when she is 
forgetting her faith to her husband '. The passion works until 
the queen forgets her people and the defence of her kingdom ; 
the well-known story unfolds itself, until at length Aeneas is 
awakened from his dream by the express message of Heaven, 
and remembers that his mission is not to help in the foundation 
of Carthage. The commands of the gods and the spectral ap- 
pearances of his father Anchises recall him to his high purpose ; 
he conquers the love which has hitherto mastered him, and 
prepares to start on his now unwelcome mission *. One end only 
is possible for the devoted queen. Her entreaties, her reproaches 
against Aeneas and the gods are in vain ; Aeneas is unmoved 
and stands firm in his obedience. The last stages of the story 

^ Aen. 4. 24 : 

'Sed milii vel teUas optem prius ima dehiscat, 
Yel Pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad luubraB, 
Pallentis luubras Erebi noctemque profundam, 
Ante, Pudor, quam te violo, aut tua iura resolvo,' 
» lb. 47 : 

'Quam tu m-bem, soror, banc cemes, quae suigere r^na 
Goniugio tali! Teucrum oomitantibus armis 
Punica se quantis attoUet gloria rebus !* 
' I camiot but regard this as the most natural explanation of the lines (Aen. 4. 57) : 
'Mactant lectas de more bidentis 
Legiferae Cereri Phoeboque patrique Lyaeo.' 
The materials for the interpretation are given in Gonington's note, though he 
has not himself adopted it. As he points out, ' legiferae ' is a translation of Bec/M- 
<l>6pot, a title of Demeter (Hdt. 6. 91, etc.) : ' Apollo again is known to have been 
celebrated as the founder of cities .... and Dionysus, like Demeter, was called 
$€<Tfjuxp6po9 (Orph. H. 41. i).' 
* See notes on p. 12. 


Digitized by 


34 Suggestions Introductory to 

are like a working out of the imri of the Greek tragedy. The 
gods themselves lend their aid in bringing about the rain of the 
victim of guilt. Omens and dreams * warn the unhappy queen ; 
the sacrificial wine turns to blood, the consciousness of her falling 
away from husband and country images itself in visions of the 
night, when she seems to hear the voice of Sychaeus calling her, 
to be fleeing before Aeneas in savage guise, to be looking for 
her people in a desert land, pursued by furies and madness, like 
Orestes by the image of his mother. Then, bent upon death, 
she deceives her sister by the pretence that she will have re- 
course to magic arts. Nothing is more touching and life-like 
than the speech ^ in which she announces this intention, dwel- 
ling, as a relief from the cruel tension of her thoughts, on every 
detail of the witch's power, the stopping of rivers, the turning 
of the stars in their courses, the raising of the dead, the bellow- 
ing of the earthquake, and the descending of trees from the 
mountains. We pass over the departure of Aeneas, the agony 
of the queen, and the curse uttered by her which is fcdfilled in 
the great struggle between Rome and Carthage, to notice, before 
leaving this part of the story, one more touch of Vergil's genius. 
Sefore the moment of her death Dido casts off the pangs and 
distractions of her last days and returns upon the great thoughts 
by which she has lived. ' I have built a glorious city, I have seen 
the walls that my hands have raised, I have avenged my husband 
and exacted the penalty which my brother's hate deserved ®.' 

The episode of Dido is worked out very much in the spirit of 
the Greek tragedy, the confused moral conflicts of which it 
thoroughly recalls *. It is the struggle of individual passion 
against the will of Heaven that Vergil intends to represent; 

> Aen. 4. 450 foU. « lb. 478 foU. 

» lb. 653 foU. : 

'Yixi, et, quern dederat cuntim fbrtima, peregi; 
Et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit imago. 
Urbem praeclaram statui ; mea moenia vidi ; 
Ulta yirum, poenas inimico a fratre recepi/ etc. 
* Among the external points of resemblance between tiie fourth Aeneid and the 
Greek drama may be noticed, v. 607, 'Sol, qui terrarum flanrmifl opera omnia 
lustras/ which recalls the great speech of Ajax in Sophodes : the phnuie, 'Di 
morientis EUssae/ y. 610, with which we may perhaps compare aMi rhv aimjt 
dai/Mv iytucaXovfihn], said of Deianira in the Trachiniae 910 ; the ixtaX use of the 
sword of Aeneas, which reminds us of the Ix^pSiv &Swpa Zwpa of Sophocles. 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 35 

the kind of struggle represented in the Ajax and the Trachiniae 
of Sophocles, where the loser loses and the winner wins without 
any end being served except the assertion of superior power. 
The real difficulty which a modem reader finds in realizing such 
situations is that we are accustomed and expect to see the right 
prevail and the wrong beaten ; but this is not the spirit of the 
Greek tragedy, where it seems as if the natural moral feelings 
were playing blindly around undiscovered centres, where the 
powers at work are not commensurate with our ideas of the 
powers of right and the reverse, and where the righteous issue, 
as we understand it, is only dimly discerned, if discerned at all, 
by the straining eye. Dido falls, like Ajax or Heracles, for no 
offence commensurate in our eyes with the punishment which 
comes upon her.- Yet I think it is clear that Vergil has no in- 
tention of exciting such a sympathy with her fate as a modem 
reader necessarily feels, and as a modern writer, were he hand- 
ling the story, would wish to excite. Aeneas sins, not by leaving 
her, but by staying with her : the will of the gods once clear, he 
harS, according to ancient ideas, no alternative. Dido has indeed 
&Ilen away from the first love to which she has devoted herself; 
this fact is never lost sight of in the course of the narrative, and 
so far Vergil has perhaps gone beyond the ordinary limits of the 
Greek tragedy in the direction of modern ideas; some sort of 
justification for the event, in the modern sense, may be said to 
be offered. But the impression left by the fourth Aeneid as a 
whole is that Vergil, though the general treatment of the story is 
'idapted to the requirements of the epic, is at the same time using, 
and sympathetically using, the great ideas of the Greek drama in 
the advantage of the Roman story. The gods have determined 
on the foundation of the Roman power in Italy by the hand of 
Aeneas; resistance^ to this from the side of human passion leads 
only to infatuation and death. The fact that the story harrows 
the feelings and rivets the attention of a modern reader does not 
prove that the poet had any idea of condemning the conduct of 
Aeneas, except in so far as he forgets his mission by allying 
himself, against the oracles, with a foreign queen. 

That such an act as the desertion of Dido should be attributed 
to a hero of the cast of Aeneas is quite in keeping with the 
spirit of the post-Homeric legend, in which the element of 

D 2 

Digitized by 


36 Suggestions Introductory to 

passion and the part played by women is generally prominent *. 
Vergil indeed could hardly have absorbed the spirit of the Greek 
drama as he wished to absorb it had the Aeneid lacked some 
such episode as that of Dido. It may be readily admitted that 
his execution, whether owing to the fact that the Aeneid re- 
mained unfinished, or to the excessive bent of the poet's mind 
towards detail, appears to a modem reader, who brings his own 
critical canons to the consideration of an ancient work, imper- 
fect; the heroic conception of Aeneas which Vergil evidently 
intended to realize is, at least to our ideas, not fully realized. 
Yet we must remember that our canons of criticism are not those 
of the Augustan age. I do not recollect any passage in the 
writings of any author contemporary with Vergil, or even in 
Quintilian, where there is even a hint of the kind of censures 
which modern criticism is fond of passing on the * character of 
Aeneas.' The primary purpose of the Aeneid, like that of the 
other great works of imagination in whose mould it is cast, is in 
truth not so much to delineate * character' as to exhibit the 
conflict of forces. The drawing of character is with Vergil, as 
with the Greek tragedians, a secondary matter, in however 
masterly a way it may incidentally be executed. 

The same conception, that of unmastered passion, in opposition 
to the fixed ordaining of Heaven, first vainly beating against its 
bars and then ending in distraction and madness, is apparent again 
in Vergil's treatment of two other subordinate characters, 
Tumus and Amata. In the last half of the Aeneid these play a 
part in the economy of the story somewhat similar to that 
played by Dido in the first half, representing the elements of 
contradiction to the divine economy. The character of Amata 
and her fat€ recall the spirit of the Greek tragedy as vividly as 
anything in the poem ; with Amata, as with Dido, uncontrolled 
passion ends in mere distraction^. Of Turnus so much has 
already been said that I need only add a word here upon the 

' It is sufficient to refer to the cases of Theseus, Jason, Herades, and Agamemnon. 

' Aen. 7. 376 : ' Turn vero infelix, ingentibus ezdta monstris, 

Immensam sine more furit lymphata per urbem.' 
Compare the description of Dido 4. 300. There are other verbal resemblances in 
Vergil's description of the two characters, as between 4. 308, *Nec morUura tenet 
crudeli fiinere Dido,* and la. 55, ' ardentem generum TMritwra tenehai* 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 37 

inner side of Vergil's delineation, Tumus is * violent ' in his 
outward dealings: and as his ruin draws near the growth of 
inner discord of mind and the maddening agency of the gods 
working upon this become more and more apparent, till at 
length his manhood and presence of mind seem to desert him. 
From the beginning of the twelfth book this progress may be 
clearly traced. *Turbidus/ *violentia,' *furiae/ these are the 
words apphed to him ^ when he is preparing for his last conflict : 
when the treaty is broken and his cause again defeated madness 
and infatuation begin ^. His final determination to meet Aeneas 
is announced with an appearance of boldness, but he is no sooner 
unsuccessful than he is altogether mastered by fear. ^ Quern 
deus vult perdere prius dementat^' a terrible messenger is sent 
by Jupiter to end the matter. It is not the words of Aeneas^ he 
says, that move him, but the gods and the enmity of Jupiter '. 
Now he does not know himself as he runs or walks, his arms 
refuse to obey him, he is like a man trying to move and speak 
in a dream, his limbs and tongue fail, his bodily strength is 
gone, his thoughts turn wildly in his brain, he gazes now on 
the Butulians, now on the city, hesitating from fear and trem- 
bling at the approaching stroke. Again the feelings of the 
reader are moved with pity : again however I venture to think 
that Vergil has no intention but to show, with all the resources 
of his poetical power, the effects of a wilM resistance to the 
commands of Heaven. It is the story of irri in a Roman form. 

I have endeavoured, however imperfectly, to indicate the main 
ethical conception underlying the story of the Aeneid as 
developed by Vergil, if indeed this conception of human life 
is not rather to be termed religious. Certain other religious 

^ Aen. 12. 9, 10, 102. 'Furiae* might Eitand Bometimes as a translation of 
diny, sometimes of cHarpot or \hff<ra, 

^ lb. 622 : <Sic ait, adductisque amens subsistit habenis.* 

Compare 665 : ' Obstupuit varia confusus imagine rerum 

Tomus, et obtiitu tadto stetit ; aestuat amens 

Uno in corde pudor mixtoque insania luctu 

Et funis agitatus amor, et conscia vurtas. 

Ut primum discussae umbrae et lux reddita menti, 

Ardentis oculorum orbis ad moenia torsit 


» lb. 894 foU. 

Digitized by 


38 Suggestions Introductory to 

iAgsls, Roman and Greek, which appear to have had a hold on 
the imagination of Vergil^ may now be mentioned. 

Whetiier from conviction, or from an undefined feeling that 
the symbolisms offered by the positive aspects of religion were 
fitter for poetical treatment than the bare rationalizings of the 
Epicureans^ or from both causes, there can be little doubt that 
the bent of Vergil's mind was towards a sensible object of 
worship, whether embodied in mythology or in the Broman state^ 
religion. ' If he is happy who has cast all religious fears and 
the howl of greedy Acheron under his feet, so is he too blessed 
by fortune who can commune with the country gods, Pan and 
Silvanus and the sister nymphs ^' And as Vergil in this pas- 
sage showed, in his poetical way, that his fancy refdsed to be 
bound in the prison and darkened by the shadows of the gloom 
which the soul of Lucretius had chosen as its companions^ so in 
the Aeneid we may, I think, trace a reaction against the nega- 
tion of all positive religious observance (I do not say creed, for 
the Greek and Roman religion was far more an observance than a 
creed) which was the natural outcome of the Epicurean philosophy. 
If the Georgics give a poetical colouring to the prinlitive nature^ 
worship which was the foundation of the Greek and the Roman 
religion alike ; if to Vergil the country is the abode of Pan, Ceres, 
and the Nymphs, and every implement, every process of cultiva- 
tion, has its tutelary deity ; if the first duty of the husbandman 
is to venerate the country gods, his kindly protectors ; so in the 
Aeneid we find a poetical treatment of the broader religious con- 
ceptions embodied outwardly in the ritual of the Roman state. 
In the eyes of men of letters, like Varro and Cicero, this public 
religion was the outward representation of the belief that a 
Providence governed the progress of the Roman empire. This 
essentially Roman idea, to which allusion has been made above, 
was in fact the mainspring of the Aeneid : no wonder then if 
we find abundant indications that the revival of the Roman 
state-religion under Augustus was dear to the heart of Vergil. 
At his time, the forms of the old republic were breaking up and 
melting into the uniform outline of a monarchical system, and 
pari passu the multitudinous floating religious ideas, Greek, 

* G. 2. 490 foil. 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 39 

Boman^ and Eastern^ which filled the atmosphere of thought, 
were moviBg to a definite centre in the worship of the Caesars. 
It is a mistake of modem interpretation to attribute to a spirit 
of mere flattery the passages in Vergil and Horace which 
encourage this new form of religious observance. However 
difficult it may be to explain the origin of the cultua of the 
Caesars^ there can be little doubt that it arose from a genuine 
popular sentiment^. What.seems to modem sentiment a taste- 
less falsehood seemed, apparently, to the religious or superstitioua 
temper of the congeries of nations then forming the Roman world, 
a not unnatural development ; the exclusive religion of the Boman 
republic, which refused, so long as it could, an entrance to foreign 
worships, and the spirit of which was directly opposed to the 
deification of a man 3, was dissolving, and the worship of Divua 
Julius once called into life in popular feeling and observance, the 

* I quote on this point an interesting passage &om an article by H. Jordan 
in the H^mes, vol. ix. part 3, on the temple of Divus Julius : ' Wir haben die 
Weihung des Tempel und Bild als einen aus der Initiative des Octavian (und 
seinen Collegen im Triumvirat) hervorgegangenen ausserordentlichen Act kennen 
gelemt. Undenkbar ist es, dass er — es handelt sich hier um die Ck)nsecrirung 
des loeuB ptiblicus — ohne Mitwirkung des Pontificalcollegiums vollzogen wurde, 
welchem Octavian bereits zu Lebzeiten Casars angehorte. Auch muss man im 
Schosse derselben erwogen haben, welcher Klasse der neue Grott angehore : die 
Bestimmung der Opfer, die ganze lex tempU forderte das. Tiber alles das schweigt 
die Gesohichte, nur dass sie die Aufhahme der griechischen Asylie in die lex nicht 
undeutlich bezeugt. Es geniigt aber nicht, die Ankniipfung an den griechischen 
Heroencultus hervorzuheben, und es ist falsch den Genius herbeizuziehen. Der 
Genius des Lebenden, nicht des Tod ten wird verehrt, und die vorkommenden Falle 
derYerehrung der Genien der verstorbenen Kaiser gehoren in die ganz eigene 
Lehre von dem Cultus der Grenien der Gotter, der altl (i^wktcs. Nun hatte man 
Bchon einmal, vermuthlich um den zweiten Punischen Krieg, den Fall gehabt : 
dem Romulus widerfiihr die Ehre der Tempeldedication, also der Aufhahme unter 
die Gotter. Erwagt man den Parallelismus des Asylum auf dem Capitol ui^^ im 
Tempel des Caesars, die Neigung der Machthaber seit Sulla sich dem Stadtgrtinder 
zu vergleichen, so mag es wahrscheinlich erscheinen, dass der veigotterte Bomulus 
an dem veigotterten Casar seinen nachsten Genossen im himmlischen Beich erhielt.' 

^ See for instance Suetonius Julius 85 : ' Plebs . . . soHdam columnam prope 
viginti pedum lapidis Numidici in foro statuit scripsitque Parenti Patriae. Apud 
eam longo tempore sacrificare, vota suscipere, controversias quasdam interposito per 
Caesarem iure iurando distrahere perseveravit.' 

' See for instance Cicero (Philippics i. 6. 13) expressing the old republican 
sentiment : ' Fuerit ille Brutus, qui et ipse regie dominatu rempubHcam liberavit, 
et ad similem virtutem et simile factum etirpem iam prope in quingentesimum 
annum propagavit, addud tamen non possem ut quemquam mortuum coniungerem 
cum immortalium religione.' 

Digitized by 


40 Suggestions Introductory to 

flexible servility of Greek paganism S which found it easy and 
natural to invest any benefactor of mankind with divine or quasi- 
divine honours, united with Oriental extravagance and Roman 
devotion in offering homage to the visible centre of Boman great- 
ness, and thus virtually bowing to the spirit of the Roman 
religion in its new embodiment. In this point of view it is 
also interesting to trace how Vergil throws a poetic lustre in the 
eighth Aeneid round the Roman worship of Hercules, the god 
whom the Stoics, now the supporters of Roman orthodoxy, 
delighted to honour^, and whose merits Lucretius^, on the other 
hand, postpones to those of Epicurus ; how he mentions the wild 
Bacchanalian frenzy and the arts of magic in contests which 
imply distinct censure*; how the one foreign deity whom the 
genuine Roman religion admitted, Cybele, the mother of the 
gods and the friend of flourishing cities, is made the friend and 
protciptor of Aeneas^; how the poet represents it as one of the 
chief parts of Aeneas' mission to revive in Italy the lawful 
Roman religion, the worship of the Penates of Troy, Italian, 
according to the legend adopted by Vergil, in their origin® ; how 
the battle of Antonius with Augustus is represented on the 
shield of Aeneas as the battle also of Roman against barbarian 
deities'^ ; how prophetic allusions are made to the restorations 
of temples by Augustus ; how the climax of the prophecy is 
reached in the conquest by Rome of the nations of the earth, 
and the dedication of their spoils at the temple of the Palatine 
Apollo®, "1 

But the state-religion of Rome, imposing as were its concep- 
tion and its embodiment, was not alone sufiicient to satisfy the 

^ Cicero 2 Verr. 2. 65. 158 : 'Apnd omnes GraecoB hie mos est, ut honorem 
hominibus habitum in monmnentis eiusmodi (stittues, etc.) nommlla religione deorum 
oonsecrari arbitrentur.* 

^ On this point see Bemays, Die Heraklitischen Briefe, p. 45. 

' LucretiuB 5. 22 foil. Contrast Verg. Aen. 8. 185 : 

' Non haec sollenmia nobis, 

Yana snperstitio veterumque ignara deorum 
* Aen. 4. 300, 492 ; 7. 385. » lb. 9. 80; 10. 251. • lb. 3. 167 ; 7. 240. 
^ lb. 8. 698. • lb. 6, 69; 8. 720; 12. 840. 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 41 

aspirations of the higher and more poetical minds in the age of 
Augustus. The condition of man after death was a problem which 
had occupied the fears, hopes, and imaginations of mankind since 
the simple conceptions of the Homeric poems had expanded and 
deepened with the centuries into the more serious ethical ideas of 
later speculation ' . The popular religion of the Greeks and Romans 
acknowledged a future life; the mysteries of Eleusis, if they 
taught no ascertainable doctrine, must at least, by the spectacles 
shown to the initiated^ have awakened or kept alive the fears and 
hopes of their votaries on this subject* ; the traditions which go 
under the name of Orphic, whatever their origin, appear to have 
contained ideas which took root both in poetry and in philosophy. 

* See for instance Plautus Captivi 5. 421, where the slave says — 
'Yidi ego multa saepe picta> quae Acherunti fierent 
The fierce inveotiye of the third book of Lucretius is really evidence for, not 
against, a widely-spread belief in immortality among his countrymen. The ordi- 
nary funeral rites and the cultus of the Manes point the same way. 

^ The theory that any definite doctrine was communicated at the Eleusinia has, 
I suppose, been generally given up since the appearance of Lobeck^s Aglaophamus. 
The passages however which Lobeck quotes, and others have quoted, from Pindar, 
Sophodes, and Isoorates seem to me to justify the assertion made in the text, and 
to show that the Oia or q>ectacle which, as far as our evidence reaches, se^otis to 
have formed the main element in the Eleusinia, included some reference to the 
future life. I give the passages from Lobeck, Aglaophamus, p. 69. 
Pindar fragm. (Bfivoi 8 (102) Dissen) : 

"0X^109 iaru lii>y iteava Molkav tlaiv inrh x^dya* 
o78cy n\v fii&rov rcXcvreti^, 
o78cF Bl Bi6<r9oTW dpx&f, 

Sophocles fragm. (753 Nauck) : 

& TfK<r6\0ioi 

Htivoi 0pOTO9v, ot TovTO B€px04vr€t riKrf 

li6\m</ h AfSov* Tot<r9f ydp fiivott iie€T 

fjy kffrl' roit 8* dXXoiiTi vdvr* iK€i /coued. 
Isocrates Panegyr. p. 48 (reXcr^) ^t oi /A€TixovT€t nepl rt rfft rev filov rcXcvr^t 
Kot rod ffbianayrot alSvot ijJUovt rd» iXvldat ix^^^* Cicero Legg. 2. 14. 36, 
translates this last passage : 'Nam mihi cum multa ezimia divinaque videntur Athenae 
tuae peperisse, tum nihil melius illis mysteriis, quibus ex. agresti immanique vita 
ezculti ad humanitatem et mitigati sumus. Initiaque ut appellantur, ita re vera 
principia vitae cognovimus, neque solum cum laetitia vivendl rationem aocepimus. 
Bed etiam cum spe meliore moriendi.' I quote this passage merely as showing that 
the way in which literary men viewed the Eleusinia did not alter from the time of 
Isocrates to that of Cicero. ' Die Eleusinien,' says Zeller, ' waren . . . von wesent- 
licher Bedeutung fiir den Zustand nach dem Tode' (Plulosophie d. Griechen, i. 
P- 54)- 

Digitized by 


42 Suggestions Introductory to 

Philosophers, if we except the Epkirreans aaid the schools which 
they irepresented, gav^e encourageiaent od: the whole to oixa or' 
other of the popular forms m whblx a belief in the future world 
waa manifested^ and by the time which we are aqw considering 
the air was full of faoieiee and theoriea^ some crude and popular^ 
others in ¥ari0ns d^rees philosophieal,. on the state of mankind 
after death. Popular, as apart &om philosophieal 8|)ecu]^ticm» 
{^pears to hare taken two distinct lines^ in this matter &om a> 
yery early time. ' On t^e one hand» we find the simple idea of 
a retribution in another world for the course of Kfe, good or evil, 
pursued in thia Thia idea is not developed, indeed we hardly 
find the germs of it, in the Homeric poems> but by the time of 
Plato it had assumed considerable clearness and consistency, and 
was from theneeforward the conunon inheritance of lit^ature. 
Side by side with this idea was another less popular and simple, 
the origin of which in Greece is obscure, but which was old enough, 
to have enchained the imagination of Pindar and Empedocles» 
— ^the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. This theory was- 
capable of a popular form (if indeed it was not, as Lobeck and 
Zeller think, derived from the hierophants of the Orphie 
mysteries*), but it was capable also of filiation from the philo- 
sophical doctrine of the anima mundi, or the unity of spirit 
pervading all forma of existence* Taken strictly, the doctrine of 

^ See the chapter Be migratione Animamm m Lobeok'a Aglaopbamus (p. 795 
foU.), and for a general treatment of this gueition ZeUer> Philotopbie der Grieohen, 
i. p. 53-61. 

The following passages from the fragments of the ep^voi of Pindar are worth 
quoting as throwing light on the sixth A^ieid. The reftoranoeft are to Bissen's 
Fragm. 2 (96) : 

'0\fil<t 8* dwearrtt a2i^ Xvaimyw [/tenMcw^mu] rcXcvr^. 

Kot <wpa i/Aif n&vTwif Itrtro* OopAt^ w€(n0^tpti^ . 

(ofiv V Irt X^iwertu ai£fyo$ ttSci^ciir r^ ydp ken ptivmr 

Fn«m. 4 (9S) : 

or<^i ^ 4^r€^ya wotvw vaXmov wMw$ 
fi^CTOi; It rhv ihrtp$€v &Kiw Htiyory Mr^ tr^X 
dr&W ^X^ wiXtr. 

9p&nrwv KdKtvvrm, 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Ameid. 43 

transmig^tion was incommensurate with, if not eontradicftory to, 
the theory of eternal rewards and punishments and a localized 
Elysium and Tartarus, which we find, taken prohably from the 
popular l)eliefs among which he lived, in the mytibs with which 
Plato concludes his Gorgias, Phaedo, and Republic. Yet we find 
that not only Pindar, from whom, as a poet, consistency cannot be 
exacted, but Plato, in his expositions on this subject, unite the two 
theories Without seriously attempting any reconciliation of them ^. 
The inconsistency recurs in an embarrassing shape in Vergil's 
sixth Aeneid ; but to blame the poet for it would be to ignore 
the whole of his literary antecedents. The two lines of thought 
were ready to his hand, each far-reaching and profound, irrecon* 
cilable only as definite propositions on such matters are apt 
to become, because starting each from acknowledged facts they 
find their meeting beyond the point where our vision can follow 
them ; one based on the unity ^of existence, the other on the 
separation of individual beings; each requiring a moral completion 
which could be supplied by the other ; each sublime and capable 
of raising the poetic fancy. That Vergil should have embodied 
both in his sixth Aeneid is only what we should have expected 
of him. More than any other poet, Vergil was careful to let no 
idea escape him which is capable of poetic treatment. Accord- 
ingly, we find the first part of the sixth Aeneid taken up with 
the mythological form of the popular beKefs ; the neutral region 
assigned to those whose life had been cut off, without fault of 
their own, before its time^ ; the region of etem^ punishment 

1 For instanoe in the Phaedo and at the end of the Kepnblic. It is worth while 
to quote here what Zeller says of Empedocles (Philoeophie, etc. i. p. 653): 'Andem 
"^erhalt es sich mit gewissen religidsen Lehren und Yorschiiften, welohe theils 
dem dritten Buche des physikalischen LehigedichtSy theils und besonders den £ath- 
armen entnommen, mit den wissenschafUichen Grundsatzen unseres Fhyaikers in 
keiner sichtbaren Yerbindung stehen . . . Liegen aber auch seine religiosen und 
seine physikalischen Lebren in Einer Bichtung, so hat es doch unser Philosoph 
unterlassen, einen wissenschaftlichen Zusammenhang zwischen ihneb herzusteUen, 
Oder auch nur ihre Vereinbarkeit nachzuweisen.' (p. 657), ' Es bleibt mithin nur 
die Ajmahme iibrig; er babe die Lehre von der Seelenwanderung, und was damii 
zusammenhangty aus der orphisch-pythagoraischen Uberlieferung au^enommen^ 
ohne diese Glaubensartikel mit seuien an einem andem Ort und in einem anderen 
Zusamm^ihang vorgetragenen philosophischen IJbflraeugungen wissenschaftlich zu 

* This seems the simplest explanation of the finct that the souk of in&nts are re- 
presented in Vergil as on the threshold of Orcus, succeeded next by those of suicides, 

Digitized by 


44 Suggestions Introductory to 

and the abode of the blessed. Then Anchises is introduced ^ 
expounding the sublime doctrine that one spirit pervades all 
existence and all forms of life, that individual Uves derive from 
this their separate being, that the body is a prison-house, death 
the liberation from it, that guilt is purged after death until the 
flame of heavenly aether is left pure, that after this purgation the 
emancipated soul returns again to its embodiment on earth. The 
whole picture is unfinished, but it is impossible not to recognize 
that in its main outlines the conception is that embodied in the 
myths of Plato. The ordinary popular mythology is put side 
by side with the doctrine of transmigration, and the reader is left 
to harmonize them as he can. His logical instincts may not be 
satisfied, but more than satis&etion is giv^n to his imagination. 
The introduction of the doctrines of transmigration and purifi- 
cation suggest at once a relation between the sixth Aeneid and 
the traditions which went in Greece by the name of Orphic ; a 
relation which may be shown to exist, I think, by other details. 
It has been noticed as a strange fact that Vergil makes no 
mention of Homer either in the sixth Aeneid, where he well 
might have done so (as Silius in his thirteenth book afterwards 
did) or elsewhere. The difficulty may, I think, be partly ex- 
plained by the consideration that Vergil evidently felt him- 

of the imjustlj condemned, of the victims of unrequited love, and of warriors fallen 
in battle. (Aen. 6. 425 foil.) There are traces of a notion that a full term of life 
ended by a natural or honourable or happy death was a necessary condition of a 
complete admission into the under-world. The ghost in Flautus' Mostellaria (2. a. 
67) says : ' Nam me Acheruntem recipere Orcus noluit, Quia praemature vita careo.' 
Compare Vergil's language about Dido at the end of the fourth book : 'Nam quia 
nee &to, merita nee morte peribat, Nondum iUi flavum Proserpina vertice crinem 
Abstulerat/ etc. Tertullian de Anima (56) says : ' Aiunt et immatura morte pne- 
ventas eo usque vagari istic, donee reliquatio oompleatur aetatum quas tum perviz- 
issent si non intempestive obiissent.' Vergil seems to have been influenced by 
some idea of this kind. The Unes 6. 431-434, — 

'Nee vero hae sine sorte datae, sine iudice, sedes: 
Quaesitor Minos umam movet; ille sQentum 
Conciliumque vocat vitasque et crimina disdt/ — 
stand in no intelligible relation to the context in which our tradition has placed 
them. They would be fiur better in place after v. 627. 

^ Aen. 6. 724 foil. Lobeck in the chapter above quoted has noticed the Orphic 
character of this passage : the word rota for circle of time (v. 748) seems, although 
Servius says 'rotam volvere ' is 'sermo Ennianus,* to recall the use of the Greek 
i^KKot or rpoxot in the same sense, as Lobeck observes. 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 45 

self more indebted to the Orphic than to the Homeric 
poems. From the Homeric poems indeed he borrowed an 
infinite mass of detail and outward adornment ; but for 
those deeper ideas which gave fuller satisfaction to his con- 
templative and religious temper he would search them in 
vain. The two bards whom he mentions by name in the sixth 
Aeneid are Orpheus and Musaeus \ The story of Orpheus had 
fascinated his imagination before he wrote the sixth Aeneid ^ ; 
but the motive, so to speak, of his mentioning them there seems 
to have been their connection with the Orphic and Eleusinian 
mysteries. Athenian tradition commonly spoke of the two 
priestly poets together, and though the Orphic mysteries were 
distinct from those of Eleusis, the later Greek representations of 
the underworld constantly exhibit points of association with 
both. To these mysteries then the sixth Aeneid may be said to 
stand in a poetical relation. The story of the initiation of Heracles 
(see note on p. 13) at Eleusis may well have been present to Vergil's 
thoughts, as there can be no doubt that in more than one point 
he represents Aeneas here as Heracles' counterpart^. In general 

* Aen. 6. 645, 66*j, In Plato's Apology, 41, Socrates wishes *Op<p€i ^vy^^viaOai 
teat Movacd<ff teat *H<rt6Sqf Kcut ^Oficfjp^. For the connection of the names of Orpheus 
and Musaeus with the under-world see Plato Republic, a. p. 364 E. In his tenth 
book (c. 28) Pausanias describes a picture which he saw at Delphi by Polygnotus, 
representing the descent of Odysseus into Hades. It is hardly possible to make 
out any minute resemblance between the scenes given in this picture and those of 
the sixth Aeneid, especially as from Pausanias' description it is difficult to gather 
the arrangement of the different departments of the picture. It is dear however 
that the painter combined elements of the Eleusinian and Orphic traditions with 
the mythology of the eleventh Odyssey. Parricide and sacrilege are represented as 
punished; among the figures described are Orpheus (with other poets, but not 
Homer) and a maiden Cleoboea, who ^x^' ^^ '''o<* y6va<n /ctfiarrbv 6voia$ jtoiuaOai 
vopd(ov(n Arffjufjrpi, Among the figures represented as suffering punishment are 
some whom Pausanias conjectured to be rwv r^ Bpdt/A€va 'E\€v<Tm iv odScvds BffU' 
vw \^79»' ol ycLp dpxcu&rtpoi rwv 'EXX^iwv rcXer^v rijv *E\€v<nv(av it&mwv, 6v6<ra 
it fla4fi€iay Ijtcti, roffobr^ ^ov ivrifi^rfpov 6<rq> icai 0€obt ifiwpo<r$€v i^pdwv. Musaeus 
was ' ein vorzuglich attischer und eleusinischer Dichter, sowohl was den Inhalt der 
ihm zugeschriebenen Orakel betrifft als hinsichtlich der ubrigen Poesieen und Tra- 
ditionen' (Preller, Griechische Mythologie, yd. ii. p. 294). Teuffd's assertion 
(Geschichte der Bom. litteratur, a. p. 494)9 that the sixth Aeneid is a mere 
copy of the deventh Odyssey, is surprising. 

^ See the end of the fourth Greorgic. 

' Thus Herades was represented as wishing to strike the ghosts with his swoid, 
as Aeneas is, Aen. 6. 293. 

Digitized by 


46 Suggestions Introductory to 

it may be eaid the sixth Aeneid reflects in a poetij rare, exquisite, 
luminous, majestic, the tangled growth of ideas, mythical, mystical, 
and philosophical, which had sprung up between the times repre- 
sented by the Odyssey and those of Vergil^ and that it would 
have been quite impossible for a poet of the Augustan age to 
have returned to the simpler notions of the Homeric period. 

Before bringing these remarks to a dose it may be observed 
that the sixth Aeneid diows fiigns of the tacit protest against 
Lucretius of which the great passage in the second Georgic gives^ 
as it were, the keynote. In several points of form Yei^, in the 
book which we are now considering, draws his materials &om 
the third book of Lucretius, and it is instructive to observe how 
he has used them. Lucretius, writing with fierce vehemence 
against the current notions of immortality, reduces the terrors of 
the unseen world to the tortures of conscience felt in this world; 
the restless passions and alarms of life, the diseases of the mind, 
have their origin, says he, in the fear of death, and with that 
fear they can be extirpated. Vergil adopts the expressions of 
Lucretius S but personifies his ideas : the gates of hell, which to 
Lucretius are a metaphor, are to Vergil a reality, the diseases of 
the mind^ the pangs of conscience^ described by Lucretius in 
simple and natural terms, are for Vergil's imagination shapes 
resting before the threshold of Orcus. Li this manner does 
Vergil here^ as in other cases, pay, as a poet, his tribute of 
homage to the greatest of his predecessors in Latin poetry. 

The sum of what has been said is that the main thread of 
ideas running through the Aeneid is Roman, but that its form is 
that of the Greek epic, and much of the spirit of its action is that 
of the Greek tragedy : that the Aeneid reflects in a poetical form 
the multitude of beliefs which thronged the literary atmosphere 
of Rome at the end of the Republic and the beginning of the 
Empire, and is in this way the most complete and classical 
monument of its age. Roman poetry before Vergil had been 
either comparatively rude, as in the case of Ennius, or, where it 
had attained real beauty of form, had been comparatively per- 
sonal ; for Catullus is a poet of lyric and lampoon, and Lucretius 

1 See GoniQgton'B oommentary on the sizth book, and compare further Lucretius 
3. 459 foil, with Aen. 6. 373 foil. 

Digitized by 


a Study of the Aeneid. 47 

the prophet of a particular school. In Vergil (as, though in a less 
degree, in Horace) there is a note of universality which we look for 
in vain in the works of his predecessors. The elements with which 
he had to work were floating and discordant, but his was the 
harmonious soul which by its own influence was powerful to 
charm chaos into order and the forms of beauty. Hence the 
popularity of Vergil at his own time ^, and his influence on so 
many of the great poets who have succeeded him. 

^Tadtus Dialogus 13: 'Testis ipse populus, qui auditis in theatro versibus 
Yergilii surrexit universus, et forte praesentem spectantemqueYergiliiim veneratus 
est tanquam Augustum.' 

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